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John Tassoni



MY LOVE IS NOT A MORNING PERSON

1
Don't touch me.

2
Don't touch me.

3
You should know at least this much:
After five hours of intermittent sleep,
dreaming your soft face
turn shadows on edge,
the best thing, the best
thing I can do
is touch you

with alarm, with all my might,
squeeze your face
and the warmth
of nascent beauty, make
your sleepy eyes
spin the guise of recognition,
touch your knee, touch
Florida, Sunday morning, Ansel,
fourth of July, your laundry,
supermarket, the fantasy
we share: love,
God, sleep,
an ocean floor, a stiff
drink.

4
I can not believe you are a morning person.

5
You love the sun, symbolically
you must know
to see the sun
I unknot a quilt for you
in shadow.

6
Don't touch me.

7
There's the offer--
I am Italian,
so when I touch you
I affirm offers. I say
my baptism, my
grandfather's funeral, beach cottage
where Michelle spilled her milk,
when St. Paul was saved, when Augie Canzanesi
stood up to me, when
Karl Marx, when stick ball
in short sleeves, when Aunt Toots
lost her legs, when an auto spring shop
in Eddystone, Frank Sinatra, stuffed artichoke,
crucifixion, Rocky Marciano, the girl
my father almost married,
what my mother
thinks of me. I am saying
eat ravioli with me, learn
gnocchi, my Sundays with Mom-Mom,
the pinch of dough on a wide board. Every fucking day
I want
to pinch my friends,
I want to suck and pinch and eat
my lover
every day
at every second at any ounce
of thought, and you
wake up
next to me.

8
Each millisecond
your palms bend away I
dislocate an elbow. If I can't
touch you
I might as well kill you, I
might as well kill myself,
I might as well eat alone:
calamari.

9
There's no context
for smiles, for dates, for
memory. There's no autopsy
for who you are, a ridge
of fingerprint, eye socket, "Jessica,"
"a movie," "My God," "next Saturday,"
"Don't
touch me," "Hello."

10
Sorry I
invaded your space. Sorry I am
not a biochemist. Sorry
for context, for fifty ways
to leave your lover, for this poem,
for scrambled eggs, for life
after death, for Wounded Knee,
for my hunger,
for starvation, for the way my clavicle
speaks through my kisses.

11
Dance with me.

12
Kiss me.

13
I miss you.

14
Don't touch me.





MARRIAGE VS. GINGIVITIS

Let me tell you three things about marriage:

1
I am a newlywed
too poor to visit the dentist. When I do
he sees multiple
fractures, impacted wisdom
teeth, seven cavities, and
gingivitis.

In my mouth the
dentist reads fistfights,
pizza, lights turned out
to tuck you in, coffee,
4:36 am, Jacques Derrida,
a chronic
low-grade infection.

2
The previous owners
leave us a red room,
a living room
one coat shy
of really red. I fill it
with prescription furniture.

My grandmother's sofa and chair:
Brown and green, they are
sixty-six
years old and
re-upholstered, clamped shut
with copper tacks
and oak.

3
Her bookcase
comes from times
when you bought
bookcases
because you bought
twenty-five-book sets
of Twain and twenty-
volume sets
of Dickens and you bought
forty-five books for
two bits
at a church auction next door.

My grandfather
extracted a piano
to make room,
plucked out black
and ivory keys
one knuckle at a time.




Copyright 1999 by John Tassoni

Contributor's Note