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Ricky Garni / Poems


sharpless: what pretty curls! what is your name, darling?
butterfly: my name is sorrow now...

--madame butterfly



An interesting thing happened to me recently while I was examining a
madras shirt--mine--while outside on a cloudy day. I noticed that the
stripes, though haphazard in appearance, almost without exception, aimed
towards the sky or towards the horizon. I realized that if I were to use
my madras shirt as a guide, then I would travel, without a doubt, either
all around the world or all the way to heaven.

I wondered whether anyone, anywhere, ever followed their madras shirt in
such a way. I wondered if anyone, anywhere, was ever so taken by the
possibilities that a madras shirt offers that he traveled to distant
lands--or India--in order to make love to someone who--though she did
not produce his shirt--did produce madras shirts and therefore
represented the wealth of possibilities that the path of a madras shirt
offers to those who are bold enough to follow the right path of the
madras shirt.

It wasn’t until I had done all of these things that I even looked at my
madras shirt. And it wasn’t until I looked at my madras shirt that I
felt my madras shirt: delicately, lovingly, but not in a
“make-lovingly” way but a serious enough way that I noticed a few
things. For example, in the lining of my madras shirt there was:

an unusual chocolate. one that is made out of chocolate that is filled
with raspberry jam and pralines and goodness knows what else.


two notes.

One read:

love you bob, lose the dress

and the other read:

The word “sure” can be an account of certainty or a diamond (shure) that
carves its way into a kingdom of beautiful sounds. Such sounds include
Cab Calloway, Johnny Cash, and Buddy Guy who once said:

“Damn right I got the blues.”




the end



Perhaps you wonder why I began my considerations of the madras shirt, of
travel, of the Bible and chocolate and all of that with a epigraph from
Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. It is because when I look down at my madras
shirt, I first imagined faraway worlds. I pause and consider those
faraway worlds. I then imagine the world beyond worlds that I cannot
know. I know that I don’t know them, and if I ever do, I certainly won’t
know until it doesn’t matter whether I do or not. Needless to say, the
effect is almost dizzying; I wonder at such times if I am hungry; I
consider the wonder of music, certain world textures, and I begin to
wonder if I really am wearing a madras shirt at all; after all, I hate
them, and, besides no one ever wears them anymore except golfers. But
there is no reason to be bitter: for truly, it is an interesting world
out there. And while it may appear irrelevant to mention Madame
Butterfly at most times in the course of casual conversation and during
inquiries about shirts in particular:it doesn’t really matter. These
thoughts will be made by someone, and bridges will be built by people
who blow them up. the weather doesn’t change, and we all know that and
we are bothered because it doesn’t, while some things change all the
time. and yet, no matter what happens, madame butterfly will always be
the saddest person I know.


walking on the wall

I took my fingers out and moved them in a hundred different ways. At
last I had my grandfather in my hands. Turning my attention to my
thumbs, arduous work
and concentration left me, after ten hours of vigorous exercise, with
the notion of a boy made perfect. Shortly thereafter, and, with no
uncertain assiduity, I made a duck quack, as though I was born to do
such a thing, which, truthfully, I wasn't. The rest is simply a blurring
collusion of time and space: a donkey that brayed, a rabbit who,
uncomplaining, ate his unsubstantial meal, and then, near the end, Toby
who, to my delight, wagged his tail.

That being done and all things being equal, I opened up the Bible to
page three.





1/3 recipe

this is another recipe that I used, much to the pleasure of my friends
and in some fashion I think this might be chronicled throughout the
ages, much like Ramses ll or a variety of the conquests of Alexander the

cherry*gooseberry chutney: a modicum
red wine: make sure it’s the best!
black pepper: some black pepper
rosemary: a little bit in your hand

mix them all up and do not use too much red wine because that will make
this sauce moribund. use this sauce on finely julienned carrots or
perhaps a springtime pasta, you know, with parsley and pine nuts within.
when confronted by this recipe, andre, having recently spent three
years in spain, queried: ‘what is a gooseberry?’ I laughed and laughed.
And then I told andre: ‘you mean, you’ve never heard of a gooseberry?’

the things that andre then told me about spain:

there are octopuses
they are extremely tasty
galicia is mountainous and savage
as for running water: forget it! (ˇOlvidalo!)
txakoli is a slightly spritzy white aperitif wine from navarra
pais pasco (‘basque country’) is also an after dinner drink made with
juniper berries
spanish women are very latin
idiazabal is a sheep milk cheese that you can buy at dean and deluca
you can buy cherry*gooseberry chutney at dean and deluca (see above
membrio is a layer of quince tree that is served with idiazabal
I’ve never heard of gooseberries
that’s a nice shirt you’re wearing
eventually you get used to octopuses





There's a drawing of a beautiful woman in my room,
Drawn in pencil, as in a drawing class, without a head.
I wonder if it causes my nightmares—mariosos murdered in cheap Italian restaurants.
Most bookstores have books detailing these kind of murders and you
always notice that: 1) the photographs are in black & white 2) mafiosos
tend to drink a lot (all sorts of things—and the glass tends to shatter
everywhere during the “hit” and it looks like Versailles (a shattered
Versailles—hardly imaginable!) and 3) although you think you know
mafiosos, you don’t. I don’t mean that it’s hard to get to know them,
although it probably is, but try to name any mafiosos other than say
Frank Costello, Dutch Schultz, Legs Diamond & maybe Bugsy Malone (not
strictly in the mafia, N.B.) and e.g. Meyer Lanskey, who was, I guess.
Could you know more mafiosos if you paid careful attention to the
screening of such Hollywood classics as G Men, Angels with Dirty Faces,
This Gun For Hire or Kiss Me Deadly? No. The truth is, you just don’t
know many of them. Avanti:

Some of these mafiosos, as they are photographed in books, appear to be
quite affable, but appearances can be deceiving: for example, Dutch
Shultz was shot and slumped over a meal which appeared to be spaghetti,
although it wasn’t necessarily spaghetti, and he looked dead but he
lived for three days. Actually, he recited unknown but beautiful poetry
for three days although that was the last thing that the stenographers,
private dicks, boys from the precinct, etc. wanted to hear those three
days, and Dutch with only a third grade education!

(Now please note that these books regarding organized crime are almost
always “coffee table books”. Today I went to one of the local bookshops
to see what I could find. “The History of Baseball”, “The History of
Stained Glass”, “The Golden Book of Sea Cows”, and “The History of
Organized Crime”. It was my day off and I thought that it might be good
for my insomnia to spend a day just “moseying around.” Al Capone used to
“mosey around” when he had nightmares which, in fact, if you will permit
me to editorialize, he richly deserved.) Actually,

I’m a firm believer that being gunned down in a neighborhood Italian
restauraunt is in fact a superb way to die. I believe this because: 1)
although the meals are rarely fancy, they are usually well-prepared from
fresh ingredients and the quaility of the food is a point of some pride
for the owners, who are often married couples or families 2) in most
neighborhood Italian restaurants, you can ask for “the usual” if you
dine with any frequency at that particular establishment and the owners
will smile and get to work. They might even have a nickname for you,
like, for example, “Mr. Veal di Quattro Estaciones.” This experience,
which is extremely gratifying, is akin to coming home and having your
mother prepare your favorite dish, spoonbread, for example, or even
*veal di quattro estaciones*. This feature is particularly meaningful
for someone whose mother might be unavailable for such things due to her
committment to an asylum or a tendency to attack people with kitchen
knives or the like, and therefore being unable to offer the typical
maternal comforts (although you can’t blame her for being mentally
unstable since clearly no one is mentally unstable by choice.) Finally,
number three: 3) when being gunned down in a cheap neighborhood Italian
restaurant, you know that you are going to die for three seconds at the
most, even less if the “hit” is a “professional hit” and it is quite
possible that your last comment might concern the quality of the food
that you would be eating at the time. The speed of death, as you can
imagine from this thesis, is quite relevant to the degree of happiness
that one experiences at the “death state.”

Now some might argue that is is important ot know that you are going to
die for more than a few seconds. Perhaps certain religion scholars.
Which religions? It doesn’t matter. Because actually, without reference
to any spiritual or religious tracts, one can deduce the happiness or
the degree of satisfaction of ones’ “death state” from simple empirical

Certainly, everyone at some time in their lives experiences the sight of
a dead body and if one is fortunate enough to have seen a number of them
in the course of one’s travels (fortunate only in the respect of being
able to amass a greater amount of evidence in order to make a more
educated empirical analysis) one would observe that each body looks
different according to the amount of time that each body has had to
prepare for the realization that death was upon them, and gaining

Now of course, some people enter into a delirium and then die—is this
period counted against their particular time of preparation? Well yes,
of course.

And then there are those who do not believe in the worth of empirical
reasoning. Would it be fair to call these people Hindus? No, it would

Now in the process of observation, one might note that those who have
had adequate time to prepare themselves for dying have what might be
characterized as an extraordinary look, or a “saintly” look. It appears
that they have seen something very significant and, strictly in the
Ancient Greek sense, something “truthful” or “aletheia” (the
“unconcealdness of being”, an awkward, albeit important term)—that’s
what they have seen. (We suspect.)

Bugsy Malone, killed instantly, slumped in his chair, most assuredly
didn’t see it. (We also suspect.)

I like to dwell on the term “the peaches of immortality.” (None of this
can we ever know for certain.)

And what the dead have seen, whether it be a member of organized crime
or perhaps just an ordinary joe, is probably nothing, but “nothing” in
the trickiest sense, what Dr. Martin Heidegger calls “the nothing” which
is an active force, powerful—we build things from it.

And that’s why the dead who have watched themselves die have that look,
which appears to suggest they have a lot to look at, all of which is
undoubtably unfathomable, such as this “the nothing” that we mentioned,
but perhaps not too far from the revelation which is hinted at
throughout literature and bold-facedly regarded everywhere else, that
is, the peaches of immortality.

Is insomnia the fear of sleeping and related to the fear of dying as so
many suggest, or have we just gone too far? Certainly, along with my
strong feelings regarding Italian restaurants, I also have strong
feelings about friends and sleeping, and believe strongly that one
sleeps better if a friend is right there, just in case. (I do not
believe, however, in the mixing of being’s ashes after death, because
both from a spiritual standpoint, and, to the untrained eye, it appears
to be a bad idea.)
I have a friend who wrote a screenplay. In it, a woman walked into the
woods and stopped when an owl called out the name of her father.

Why would that happen the director asked. Because it would be cool, he

Yes, it would be. I called him on the telephone because he seemed like
the perfect person to ask. Will you come over? I asked. I have a picture
I would like you to take home with you. It’s a beautiful woman...