Joseph Calavenna: Four Poems from Practical Ventriloquisms

the circus is in town
just fifty yards away
all the women have beards
there are stalls and stalls of tambourines and shakers
Rome you’re the only one for me
put your hands on my pasture
push pins in my cork board
tap lightly at the plate glass of my window

today is a crowd of pigeons
the streets are all trimmed in white
children run furiously through blue-tiled fountains
eight bulls’ horns hang from a chapel spire
in Arkansas many small matadors
let moist black dirt
fall collectively through their fingers
I hold three bulls’ ears in my teeth
I’ve lost my taste for magic
I can see myself running naked 
down the dried bed of the Clinton river
where it bends around the thicket
where I found the dead doe with its eyes plucked out
where I waded with my jeans rolled up
bare unsteady feet on the wet stones
to a pyre of bottle rockets and beer
in the middle of these suburban woods
the Clinton river bends around me
I am an oil lantern
the brown crumpled leaves gather in close at my feet
I can see past the beaver dam
past the pile of sticks I made into a fort
past the dead doe frozen in place
I can reach out and touch every part of Michigan

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