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DELAWARE POETRY REVIEW
Gerry LaFemina
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DOG BARKING AT THE MOON
after Miro

Not at the ladder propped against nothing, that great lattice leading to the angels' ballroom.  Not at the angels, either.  The dog barks at the moon because it looks so strange tonight, and someone should see this.  See this, the dog barks.  Woof!  Woof!-a perfect spondee:  See this!  But nobody comes, for so few these days understand the canine tongue.  The moon blows like a sail on invisible currents.  It's going east, the dog's barking to the west.  I could just as soon respond as climb the ladder, but what would be the point - I mean in a few hours dawn will kick the ladder down into the fertile soil.  The dog will stop barking, yawn, and curl itself into sleep.  Sure the moon might still be around, but lost among all the sunlight, it would seem a ghost, a memory, a light scar on a light sky, something no dog would worry itself about, no matter how strange.

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DEAR DAIRY QUEEN

I remain, of course, your loyal subject, what with the joy of each chocolate-vanilla swirl cone you've given.  You rule nobly and with justice.  No, I haven't forgotten the time I puked that milkshake, but to be banished from your queendom-even a self-imposed exile-was too much.  So please, grant me pardon for all I've said.  I see now how wrong I was.  I see the little ones wearing the clown make-up of dried ice cream, I see the college girls with their boyfriends, their tongues cat-like on the cold custard, I see your signs lit up at night, red as dawn.  Please let me return to your dilly bars and blizzards, to your chocolate dip and peanut buster parfaits, to the small happiness of your rainbow sprinkles.

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RECESS

Because the nuns wouldn't let us play hide-and-seek, we'd play Bellevue, in which one person was the psychiatrist who had to find the escaped patient from the famous asylum.  If we were caught by him, we returned to a state of catatonia.  If we were caught by the nuns, we explained we weren't hiding, Steven wasn't seeking.  Once, in order to prove a point, Sister Margaret Elizabeth brought in a straight jacket that she strapped me into in front of the class.  For her it seemed a moment of triumph, except I was a child, the jacket much too large, so I could do my best Houdini, wiggle out of my bonds and walk out of the classroom, right past the office into the sunlight glinting off the chapel's metallic cross.  I tried to imagine what she thought, finding the fabric and buckles in a small bundle on the floor.  I looked at the classroom window where I could see my peers, some working through math problems, some giggling to themselves.  One of them waved.  I popped a bubble of my illicit gum, then took off running.

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About the Poet
Gerry LaFemina is the author of two collections of prose poems, Zarathustra in Love and Figures from the Big Time Circus Book/The Book of Clown Baby.  His books of poems include The Parakeets of Brooklyn and The Window Facing Winter among others.  With Dennis Hinrichsen, he co-edits Review Revue--a journal of poetry reviews, interviews, and prosody essays, and he directs the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University, where he also teaches.
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