Tuesday Poem: ‘Back in the News’ and a handful of love poems by Gary Percesepe

I’m so happy to post poems by Gary Percesepe this week, with Author Commentary, in a nod to Valentine’s Day. We open with a poem that’s no so lovey-dovey but it hits hard, in a Gary P. kind of way. And the three other poems included here are pure Percesepe — sensual and lush and unapologetic about being consumed by love.

Percesepe’s poetry and stories have been lighting up the Internet and print anthologies for a long time now. I first met him during the 52|250 project (a flash a week for a year), and now I’m tickled to see we’re both involved in another series, along with 29 other writers — the innovative 2014 story anthologies (a story a day for a year!), brought to us by Pure Slush.

Thanks to this fine American poet for sharing his poetry this month.


Back in the News

In the republic of other things fame dies in a day.
What about the geckos who don’t do commercials?
There is always that another carnival barking.
We look like late foliage by now.
Normally I’d climb you like a comma.
We’re trapped between underperforming texts.
Ankle over to our affiliate they’re interviewing the prophet Absurdia .
Folk watch Fox like mice behind the grill.
Seems like we’ve been here a long time.
Look out, here comes another suffering update.
We’re a few marsupials short of a menagerie.
Spin again.


I want to feed you

hamburgers and fries
slathered in catsup
crisp bacon and eggs
over easy
catfish caught deep
in the channels of
the mississippi    then
baked ziti made from
scratch in my abruzzi
kitchen with garlic i’ve
sliced thin with a
special razor blade
kept by the toaster and
ricotta cheese i bought
from the little italian
guy on the corner of
arthur avenue who’s
been there since fdr
then i’ll feed it to you
by the happy forkful
wiping your hungry
mouth with slices of
toasted garlic bread
and a big pour of chianti
till it ran down the slope
of your white shoulders
and reddened your
which i’d lick with
my greedy tongue
and if i had you i
would go on feeding
till you sped past 100
and you wouldn’t stop
eating the chocolate and
hazelnut gelato i’d bring
home from the gelateria
della palma by the pantheon
the pistachio
crowning the cone with cool
green flavor       oh i’d spoon it
into you careening on
now to the poetry which would
dribble down past our belly buttons
winking up at us
and we’d feel as if we’d
awakened on the last day
of our lives at nathan’s on
coney island there on the
boardwalk and you know what?
if i had you i wouldn’t
share you with anybody.


December 17

for Jennifer

That winter in Buffalo it would not stop snowing.
I sat in bed looking out the tall window. I’d strung some
Christmas lights on the dresser mirror to cheer me, but the

wind off the lake didn’t care. It curled the curtains of this old
house, pushing me deeper under the covers. Snow drifted to
corners of the yard. A black Lab romped and drank his water.

When she finally arrived it was like a cello playing inside me.
I became interested in what I might become. In a candlelit room
of North Pole elves and children’s notes she whispered, Stay.

Outside, the furious season, blowing. Faith is a hunger. It took
me a long time to see my life, I’ve stood on top of myself, looking.
Inside her felt more like home than a visit. The air around her

filled with pictures. She took my hand and led me upstairs to the
bedroom. In the dark house, everywhere we walked burst into
flowers. Her mouth was silky, dark and wet. Her chocolate hair

I put in my mouth. I tasted the white wine on her breath. Peeling
off her socks, I laced my fingers through her toes, stroked her
smooth thighs and calves. In the long night she stole the covers
and insisted it was me. It was morning but neither of us wanted
to leave. That room was like a marriage, mysterious and deep.
I’m saying everything I wanted was in that room.


Blizzard for Two

for Jennifer

In the kingdom of days
time walked slowly
through us.

The city is a white
shaking dome
fastened to a great lake.

In a city of neighbors
I sat alone and waited
for my piece of the storm.

You waited too.
We both waited
for something to

the upper Niagara
is shattered shelves
of crashing blue ice
lit from above
by a strand of
blue bridge lights
as I drive to your
house along the
frozen highway.

No one is
but me
and I have
no thoughts
but you.

the tree
is trimmed
the TV hums
the dog sniffs a
faint approval.

We are here.

Let the wind howl
& distant stars shiver

the furnace groan
and every false
calendar be turned
again to careless

Neither of us
expected this.
I kissed you
again & again &
tugged at
twisted sheets
in your
winter bed.

Is there some
fortune cookie saying
we will go on singing?
Shiny gold bells in
snowy trees
hollowed by time
each puff of wind
playing through us
a music we had
long forgotten.

Cheever, master of
suburban disaster, once
caught himself hoping:
When body touches
heart, how singular, how blessed,
the richness of our opportunity.
O, what a paradise it seemed!

Sun and moon in orbit
over the fiercely falling snow
a blizzard of two
and the stars are shining.

Your love is a fire
your smile the light
of hidden flowers;
where nothing is waiting
it is said
everything is waiting there


Author Commentary:

“Back in the News” is a poem I had originally titled “Live from Newtown”. I backed away from this title days later, out of respect and grief for what was really happening. Like so many, I was (and continue to be) horrified that we think it more important to protect guns than children in America. It was, I suppose, an addled poetic response to more TV idiocy that serves up human suffering on demand and by the commercial cupload. A few months back, my friend Kim Chinquee asked me for a poem for Elm Leaves Journal, the exquisite new journal of the Buffalo State University Writing Program, and I gave her this poem. I read it (with a shout out to Rupert Murdoch, yo!) on Sunday, February 9, which also happened to be my birthday.

On Sunday, I also read another poem from my new collection, falling, a poem titled’ i want to feed you’, which I hope is self-explanatory. This poem is apparently an audience favorite. I think of it as a New York poem, but I’ve read it to moans and cheers and laughs on the Amalfi Coast, in Italy, so now in the snow and cold in Buffalo—well, it only seems fair. It’s a fun poem to read. I didn’t write it with any particular person in mind, but now that I’m happily in love, well…you know. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’ve stated on more than one occasion that love letters and love poems are the most democratic forms of communication, as they make fools of us all. The last two poems, ‘December 17’ and ‘Blizzard of Two’ (yes, there’s a nod to poet Mark Strand in the title), are love poems, written and meant to be read for one person. Everyone else can look over her shoulder.


GARY TUX PICGary Percesepe is Associate Editor at New World Writing (formerly Mississippi Review) and a Contributor at The Nervous Breakdown. Author of seven books, Percesepe’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and published in a great number of journals and anthologies, including Story Quarterly, N + 1, Salon, Mississippi Review, Antioch Review, The Millions, Brevity, PANK, Structo, The Brooklyner, and other places. He is the author of a short story collection, Itch, and a poetry collection, Falling, both published by Pure Slush Press in 2013. His collection of short stories, Why I Did the Grocery Girl, is forthcoming from Aqueous Books. He lives in Buffalo, New York.


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