Poetry: Selections from Livio Farallo



does nothing but threaten.

look at it.

blue or gray,

a war always,

stark or heavy bone.

a war.

and i’m not talking about sky,

that’s a universe drifted away

from you and me.

but right here,

in the crystal music,

in the bright resolute that burns

into silence with any timid wind.


the house moves its muscles.

it breathes.

if you watch

you can see it lean

as sure as voice and sweat move trees.

listen closely to the rumpus,

like a kennel of midnight dogs.


grope only thick things:

you can smell the whine of sawdust

sprayed in a mist from not too far away.

repairs and

new stairs for rotting footsteps,

aged as cheese,

crumbling as a chewed scone.


he has a five-day growth of hair

on a scalp burnt outside in.

on it,

a shining sun glistens up wet -

stapling shingles on a porch roof.

spitting down, he is

dancing in the howling air.

i think, therefore nothing


what do you think of the mountain growing there

peaceful as an unsqueezed trigger?


i think

rancid thoughts are useful as penicillin:

i think there is nothing real about the moon

                           nothing dear about you

thrashing away on a gaff

muttering tattoos.

i am sure that cognac sloshes in your mouth

like carried water at the ends of a long pole

and imported dishes must be kept away from dust

and the large bellies fingering food with their lips.

and their sweating is so much unquenched

they would drink the liquid hell of piss christ

and gladly manufacture sin.

i think i will have to go out of my way to go home,

untortured with gout, savage and docile when left alone -

it is when wind makes me a mercenary, that i kill for peace.

it is never my fault that the huge whisper of money

is a white-gloved magician’s hand snapping its fingers

in my ear, custodial to no one, sanitizing to all.

i think i have done my homework and know that the height

of smokestacks, the drift of effluence, the bungee cord

of heat, is a shit taken on the kitchen floor

while scallops and red peppers simmer on the stove.

i think that gametes englobe the human race

declaring chromosomes perfect and omniscient and even

in gender numbers – one for me and one for you and one for

the little girl who lives down the lane – and i think

traits are sprouting too tight and too low and too

interchangeable and all-too-beautiful to see.

we met at wendy’s though i never ate there

i could hear her

charge down the night,


in muffled stampede

with high-heeled sandals

strapped on; with thick



she waited in

the rain

like watered broccoli

in a supermarket, pinched

maybe once

or twice: she was


too old for that.


i could hear her

sobs from the mechanic’s

smoke down the

street; from the knock

saying come in; from

that look of hers

that could flood the

floor unspoken, bunching

up inside her umbrella.


and when we shuffled

the blankets

like old decks of

soggy cards,

and dogs barked like

telephones, we

spilled ourselves

and laid face down and

stupid in wine.

end of the pipe 

hunger at our lips


nothing simpler

than a flask

for swallowing.

in odd throats, long

and circumspect, words

already burned out from the promises

filling throats.


if he could, the little boy

would be anything

but a little boy.

soft weeds crunch under

his military boots.

they are loud yawns.

they are neither here nor there.


they are the fingers of wedding cake,

new rings on each hand; the gray

beard rocks from side to side, already.


and a sky gets bloody,

smelling of shadows;

it works its way happily

into our first and last night,

between imperfect visions.


after all,

the horses will not come back

after war. the parts of the sun that glow

are blind before they vanish.

night happens without darkness

and spills over most of the world.


one day there, camouflaged as

the fastest bullet,

a child with a toy gun

is not the same as peace.

phineas and the rodent

the legs flutter for an instant,

tail whipsaws silently

from a rump thrust up.


rail workers flicked ash

on tracks they didn’t vote for

which should’ve made them pound

a retreat to a more truthful world.

but something more than money pulled them

rapidly along.

the smell of where they were going

was the instinctual tug of a baby

in bottomless hunger, crying and attended to,

because one day, he’s a quiet giving man

with kind eyes fed and muscles working.

and another day


the trap settles. the head crushed

under the bar with more than a fleeting moment

of emptiness and death understanding an embrace.

they lost each other that day.

Livio Farallo is co-editor of Slipstream and Professor of  Biology at Niagara County Community College. His work has appeared or, is forthcoming, in Helix, Rabid Oak, Brief Wilderness, Landfill, The Blue Collar Review, Otoliths, and elsewhere. His collection Dead Calls and Walk-Ins traces his work as a taxi driver some years ago.