The Rusty Toque | Issue 13 | Poetry | November 30, 2017
I took from Hell what I could, sucked
its fluoride gums, hummed its national anthem,
warred the devil’s hinky thumb at parties.
Its gym facilities stunk: nautilus cages
and LA club owners doing bumps
off the treadmill belt. Those with clout
felt swell in Hell. The rest resented
being invited. Beasts at night, shopping bag-
breasted, fishstick-toothed, pulled themselves
spur and tibia to the town pub,
where, I will say, I liked the trivia.
Hell’s a whole lot more populous
than earth, subdivision after subdivision
winding through the adamantine chains
and penal fire. Who durst defied God
dwelt like cruise ship regulars, walking
shrimp buffets, dowdy lounge acts.
Not everyone was evil; some like me
eked through technically, half-examined.
They gave me nothing to wear when I got there
but a sword to sleep on, a pig
to consume me at night, a larynx that shut
when my opinions self-served. They gave me
the will to self-actualize through accomplishments
and friends. When I left, I tipped the doorman
a head of hair. I was prepared to be without.
The Lotus Eater
Pom-pom of commerce, raffler of afterthoughts,
ticker tape in an Italian film, I baffle in from the snow
to meet Sir, to meet Madam, to eat suet cakes and sweetly
play trivia. They dress me so darling in their daughter’s
tent dress, as it was at First Communion. Absurdity is
our lingua franca. I can have all the Coca Cola I like
nor do I need to go to bed, as dusk rubs its tabula rasa
in corn oil, as a crow shakes its beak of snow.
Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a sandwich.
In its yeast, in its compartments, as it was in former times,
the emergence of the material present. Morning crows
its come-and-go way. The only time of day vulgar enough
to necessitate eggs. Running their proteins on our glazed plates.
We watch a game show where the host spins our ancestors’ ghosts.
The whole of human subjugation shows up to sup our midday tea.
The sun hangs behind a garry oak, very much,
we all agree, like a yellow doily.
All is lost, all is ruinous, and how quickly your friends
turn to hunt you with their ivory rifles, after a dinner
of mostly vegetables. It is getting dark, but the snow
still flips some light from each house, betraying
my whereabouts to those who wish to hang me by my ears.
Time flies a zeppelin into our library: no cultural shadows
from the fireplace, and the basset hounds whose jowls once
draped our loafers now sniff for the scent of my scalp.
Please tell the world my frivolity was a tuning fork
in service of some sad, hospitable music.
VINCENT COLISTRO'S poems have appeared in The Walrus, Hazlitt, Geist, Arc and elsewhere. He was a prize-winner in the 2012 Short Grain contest, and was nominated for National Magazine Award for Poetry in 2014. Late Victorians (Signal Editions, 2016) is his first book. He lives in Toronto.