DANIEL FITZPATRICK - POEMS
Daniel Fitzpatrick grew up in New Orleans and now lives in Hot Springs, AR, with his wife and daughter. He received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Dallas, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in several journals, including 2River View, Coe Review, and Amaryllis. He plans to finish his first novel this year. In addition to writing, he enjoys kayaking the Diamond Lakes, micro-farming, and exploring the Ouachita Mountains.
The Blind Bernini
A beggar held his hand to me
and asked I touch my quivering life.
A green growth clasped his calves
and shuddered my skin with surety
Bernini shouts from Daphne’s sylvan mouth.
His beard grew wild, like blackberries,
and I thought the crushed dried juice
fermented August on his breath.
Love transpired in his touch,
smooth as the memory of my grandfather’s flesh,
and his eyes impressed his music on my mind.
The sudarium subsides.
We commune with air, the light,
the spreading touch that trickles
into nervous veins like wine.
We smile and die.
I touched myself,
the vital flesh unveiled,
given up to desperate mirth
shaking ripe berries
from the hedges of myself.
I drank then at the cracked lips,
and the lowly sheets of being
shook dry and fresh as sacrificial calves.
Apollo’s bow carved us from the Sun,
and I tremble love
and sink into the arms of day.
St. Patrick’s and the World War II Museum, New Orleans
Slicing an ambrosia at breakfast,
eight blades radiating down the core,
sets up a Sunday tone--
one blemish bruises flesh
and suckles our shameless attention.
Everything depends on shaking
the homeless black hand,
smooth as magnolia,
and fighting through the Latin rite
not to contemplate soap and hot water.
Homer burst from Ilium’s ashes
and turned our eyes forever toward
the visceral vicarage
of galleries, museums,
the riddled walls of Gandalfo,
all the lamplit mentalities
that rifle the folds of the brain
until the end of mea maxima
falls shame-faced or forgotten
as tickets littering sidewalks
cobbled of the honored dead.
Has gold arisen in Dresden?
Have we washed the radiance
from our hands?
Our eyes, gods’ eyes
brooding through fig ash,
grow blind as stones
until we grow old
and go where we do not wish
It’s tricky to picture you
advancing your command across
Afghanistan’s grey eyes,
the rough too-fluid tread
of turret, skirt, and coupola
through the documented occupation.
You resolve first that morning on the mall
a minute prior to epistemology
stepping in slow circles to crush
the night’s weight of acorns
beneath your hard right sole.
And then through the dark
divided by the streetlights
shearing in between the blinds,
kneeling next to your bed,
and then, our eyes both closed,
repeating the officers’ retreat
when the sergeant tore the goat’s throat out
with a cheese knife
and looked at you across
the red right hand
fondling his scotch
The wind whipped the hill in widening waves,
combing the curling papers out of the oaks.
The squall sliced, settled, and hung straight
and then, skipping any interlude, struck up the sun.
The dogwood delivered its clinging drops, swollen
and shining with a hieroglyph’s cubist eye,
and the limp leaves gathered the storm’s joy
as the water on the stove began to boil.
By the time I’d put the plates away
and set to scouring the pan left
standing on the stove until
the butter, cream, and salmon sheen shone gold,
the sky had cleared and clasped the clouds
riding the high light of their ancient names.
I bent to the wet pan’s obsidian stare
and sponged the suds against the clock.
Suddenly it seemed I’d shaped a Pollock,
someone I’d seen in the Pompidou
who’d pleased me more than he’d impressed,
someone whose stuff I’d said I’d recreate.
And so, it seemed, I had, or so the sponge,
speaking the right wrist’s mechanistic sibilants.
I stared a second at the mindless fingers’ artifice
then rinsed the pan and put it on the rack,
seeing my practiced incapacity.
When I washed from the arch, gasping
wet shadows on the cold Appian stone,
skin stained purple as a wine-washed smile,
my Godfather offered me
a great wooden horse.
His four fingers--
coarse-haired stubs thick as thumbs--
gripped hammer, plane, and saw
and smoothed the lumbering flesh
in fluent curves of mane and tail,
forging sturdy flanks, cylindric ears
I promptly stuffed with pennies
(no wonder he grew so stubborn).
My uncle, the eighth child,
returned misshapen from the womb,
as if grandfather, just forty-six,
two years left of death,
had lost a touch of attention,
unable to give his signet again.
Most days the shop’s silent, dust
settling to cold shavings on the concrete floor
between his fits fiddling with a cousin’s vanity.
Rocking in his room looking out on Canal,
he stews all afternoon in his soaps.
His cackling agony cracks
into the blue-hued den,
clueing me and Grandma,
chatting about sea shells
in the orchid’s lilac shade,
to the mixed ecstasies
of aphrodisiac actresses,
while the glass eyes remind
me to see convexly.