Ray DiPalma


Promise the Perverse and Offer a Chinese Pillow

And at night a truce
with Iran or Korea seems certain
while I am beaten to death
by a thug in a back bedroom.

                                        -Frank O'Hara, "October" (1952)

It was dawn in Irkutsk and the trees were on fire—
In the Garden of Scratch
We had steak and eggs for breakfast—
I'm up to my ass in coral and grapes,
Fiacres, roses, and blackbirds,
Cuneiform ledgers, and tropical art—
You don't quite hear what I'm talking about
But you know what I mean.

There's no second sight, or something well-remembered
That might offer another side of the story—
No more distance, no more intimacy, simply more.
The end of the body is the end of the dispute.
You know what I mean
But you don't know what I'm talking about.