Emilio Iasiello – Three Poems
In summer, in humidity
and too much sweat, and hot hot things
rising from the streets, I watch
the bums in the park, nipping
off a bottle shrouded in paper.
They pass a cigar back and forth,
a Round Table of tobacco and liquor,
no thought but the next drink
and the amount short
on a thirty-two ounce beer,
always the thirst
because it’s liquid the body loses
so liquid the body must take.
They fumble their pockets for pennies,
seven in one, eleven in another,
pool it together in a pile
of copper. What remains
is the drawing of lots,
who’s to go, and who’s to stay,
spinning in the afternoon
like a dizzy memory.
And when he returns,
the rest marvel at the tin in his hands
not a gold cup but something a carpenter
would drink from, sipping and passing,
sipping and passing as if to say
this is His body,
it was given up for you.
Kissing the Blind
In the park, next to the monuments
whose stark glory diminishes in the sun,
an old woman sits alone on a bench.
Her hands hold a sign – help me,
I’m blind – its letters twisted
in uneven shapes, smudged like squashed insects.
Beneath her naked feet rests
a dented metal cup, silver and copper
loose in its belly. I approach her
as I had approached a sedated lion
when I was six, biting my lip,
inching forward slightly, afraid.
I looked through the dark bars
where the lion sat sprawled out his face
expressionless, vacant. I remember
the depths of his eyes as he watched everything
without blinking, as if his head was stuck to a plaque
on a wall. And yet there was never a question
of strength, the powerful jaws that hung
so slack, the vicious paws, the mane
that caught the wind with its terrible authority.
I ran away crying.
And yet because what I now know
I learned then,
I must go and give her a kiss
the way my brother made me
eventually pet the lion, my young fingers
stretched out, trembling, touching the thick
mustard fur, tickling behind the ears.
And so I lean over the woman’s frail frame
and plant my lips over the lid of each
empty eye, looking deeply into this face I fear
crying the hysterical shrieks a child cries
when he knows he’s been bad;
giving up his tears
until all if forgiven.
Before you left, I said
you were too beautiful for me.
That much is still true.
The wonder I feel when you sit across
from me sipping coffee
is the same fear that claws up my spine
when I think of you in Guatemala now —
sharing the afternoon light with some guapo
street side, the espresso cup
pressed firmly between your capable fingers —
drinking plain ol’ American
with another student
missing his girlfriend as much
as you miss me
a candle flame between you
its small confession in light–
discovering in a mistake of passion
is what’s uncovered with your hands,
its heightened breath on your neck,
a touch or two.
I know it’s foolish
but my life is spent thinking
one day, praying the next.
I stare at the stained ring
in my cup, the bitter grounds
stuck mercilessly to the bottom
and I suddenly think, hot,
black, as if there’s no better way
to torture myself.
When I drink coffee,
trading one life for another.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
Beauty is more than just an obvious visible characteristic or feature of a person or object. An attraction may certainly start with the visible, but beauty triggers a range of emotional responses that reach the heart, the body, and the intellect. It’s multifaceted, and in being so, reaches and connects to an individual in a variety of ways and channels. It’s what keeps us thinking. Keeps us smiling.
Emilio Iasiello has published poetry in several university and literary journals, and recently had his chapbook Postcards from L.A. published in 2018. An avid screenwriter, Emilio has authored several independent films and short films. His stage plays have been produced in the United States and United Kingdom. More at: https://emilioiasiello.com/.