Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

 

Coriolis Effect

 

A short pipe crosses a long pipe with the ends bent back,

and when you spin it and water shoots out, for some reason

I can’t begin to fathom, no pun intended—it’s not well

understood, the tag concedes—it bends in the wrong direction.

 

I’ve seen so much of this lately: pulsing orange dots you know

are green that some kid says are orange you know are green,

a street scene changing frame by frame by frame before your eyes,

every station telling you that what you know in some specific context

is erroneous. Ending is approaching, the indolent massing of smoke,

of friends on the brink—blink and one’s in free fall. I greet

the old men on the pier, one pounding out ragtime, the other

in boater and cravat endlessly looping the history of houseboats

in the bay in the old days.

 

But beyond this, I myself am moving counterintuitively, away

from noise and turmoil toward a bilious velvet clarity, the glacial

drop to a frigid sea. The lives of friends, standing crosshair on the

planking, about to swoon to cyclonic depths, the lungless

and the gutless row ceaselessly around in patternless circles in

the night’s netting, but just when I think I’ve got the whole thing

figured out I see I don’t realize how complex the whole thing is.

 

Why must one fall? Or fail? Or lie? Or lie on one’s back

counting smoke rings rising up to Mars? To be so fat, like fill

in the hold of a ship, requires strength, skill, constant stoking.

To rock, rock, rock to mass the thrust for surging to your feet,

what a feat for a man pushing 60 to hoist all that fat up 16 times

a day! To be so fey requires an ocean of abasement, the penciling in

of the cirrhotic spot denied in lies. All blown off on me, spun off

to where I am not called.

 

Coriolis lived in a well. Hearing waters splashing round him,

he told his stories quickly, starting one before he was finished

with the next . . . 

 

 

 

To an Unknown Lover

 

Sweet words like sea birds,

where do they come from,

fluttering unannounced in a

turnstile sky? I don’t know you,

have never heard you speak,

not in cave, on mountaintop,

trilling down a watercourse,

risen on the spray. But I can

imagine you speaking, imagine

knowing you, you knowing

everything I know nothing about—

peace, poise, ease—your

reaching me as a priestess,

teaching me beyond thought, 

almost knowing, always knowing,

always having known.

 

Fred Yannantuono was once fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse; ran twenty straight balls at pool; finished 183rd (out of about 10,000) at the 1985 U.S. Open Crossword Puzzle Tournament; won a yodeling contest in a German restaurant; was bitten by a guard dog in a tattoo parlor; survived a car crash with Sidney Lumet. Paul Newman once claimed to have known him for a long time. He hasn’t been arrested in 17 months.
 

His book, A Boilermaker for the Lady, has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. Work was nominated for Pushcart prize in 2006. He's currently featured poet at Light Quarterly. His book TO IDI AMIN I’M A IDIOT—AND OTHER PALINDROMES is due out later this year.