Two volumes of Louis Gallo’s poetry, Crash and Clearing the Attic, will be published by Adelaide in the near future. A third, Archaeology, has been published by Kelsay Books; Kelsay will also publish a fourth volume, Scherzo Furiant, in the near future. His work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth, Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others. Chapbooks include The Truth Changes, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times. He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
LADYBUG ON THE LAMP SHADE FRINGE
My first thought when I espied her clinging To a decorative strand of the deco shade Was revulsion, my first instinct to pinch Her between my fingers and fling her Into the box elder outside-- No insects in the house, disgusting. But, as I prepared the assault, I noticed How beautiful she was and how adamantly She clung to that thread as if some ladybug Lifeline for survival in this unnatural place. An alien guest in my house from another kingdom! So I turned off the lamp to avoid exposing her To excess heat and bid her stay put For as long as she so desired. The next day she remained fixed in place As if glued there, and I did nudge her off Into my palm. She could not survive In the house. I did not have to fling her Into the bush; she spread her tiny wings And flew toward the center, overjoyed. May you prosper, guest, and remember That lampshade that attracted you Which you probably mistook For a strange, weird spear of grass.
FLUCTUATIONS IN THE PRICE OF COAL TARDURING RECONSTRUCTION IN THE SOUTH
It arose as if from the grave while I struggled to sleep, The title of an essay assigned in a history class Decades ago, a black, smoldering remnant Of an otherwise forgotten semester, this useless, Distasteful relic which should have remained buried, Having no bearing either then or now, having No bearing ever for anybody aside from a professor Or two anchored to minutiae and joyless enterprise. Imagine the pain, that fine print accompanied By graphs and charts and scales and, no doubt, Spider webs. Tossing such a stale bread crumb Out to Freshmen treading water, hungry for insight, Not trivia, mouths agape, starving, bewildered. Fluctuations! We should have risen up, demanded Toynbee and Herodotus, the titans, give us Gibbon, Not this naval lint, this loose thread from a button. He threatened a quiz, had a hard-assed reputation, So we went blind, suffered every paragraph, Learned nothing worth knowing, specks And smidgens. When that term ended I sped out of History like a comet burning out Though now, a universe later, I suspect I missed Something.
He strains to remember the early, dizzying pace, Much less the very first, the sliding his feet Into cleated Nikes (did Nikes exist then?), The gunshot and explosive projectile off a runner’s block, the what-seemed-then illusory finishing line, so distant, unimaginable, so ludicrous, how he leapt certain hurdles with birdlike finesse, crashed into others, spent time limping, once or twice flat on his back in the gravel, the scrapes, blood, sprained bones . . . the ever-widening circles as he sped forth, he, ahead of all the others until they began to overtake him, his exertion flagging, the lure of a prize or trophy diminished, the very idea of triumph now undistinguishable from defeat, the comrades who dropped out early or disappeared or veered off into other pastures-- he wonders why he treads on, the tortoise now, that target illusory as ever, his intent in question, the circles so widened that the entire past, that scrimmage way back, vanishes in mist with each new step, the steps themselves sinking into quicksand or peat bog, or frozen solid. Alone on the track, the others way ahead Or far behind, he cries, purpose, purpose, What is the purpose? knowing all the while That even purpose no longer matters, Purpose, purpose, fool’s gold, pyrite, Joker in the deck, land minds in the trajectory, Dynamite in the Nikes.