Poetry: Selections from Salvatore Difalco
It’s Cold Out Here
I carved out a zone for myself, stroke by stroke, like a swimmer foaming a streak through blue, the warmest colour by some accounts, though I associate it with glacial ice and polar bears feasting on seals—horrible to envisage, nature never worries about bloodying some blue ice, sometimes referred to as the blue vault when the awkward or unlucky northern explorer plunges down a crevasse and finds himself hanging by an orange nylon strap, facing a translucent blue future, the glow almost warming but not, as frost settles in and the hardening of body fluids commences. A change of state often results in a change of perspective. Do I emerge rebuked by life, shaken to the core, but so overjoyed to be alive everything feels fabulous? Even the black toe removal weeks after comes like a blessing: It could have been the entire foot, it could have been the nose or the cheeks, it could have been the fingers, but a few missing toes never stopped a man from walking a mile in borrowed shoes, given the old ones no longer fit, and not enough time has passed to hit a local cobbler or to order them online, as is the current custom, though I dare say, I don’t like buying shoes without trying them on first. How ludicrous to order a pair of shoes via optics and not foot-feel. How much longer should I continue? And I’m not talking about feeling so blue the roaring river looks like a remedy. I’m talking about this thing I do, this talking to myself or the air, once a rarity now reality—everyone’s chatting or texting or yapping these days and yet we’ve never been so lonely.
Her gestures are forceful and swift, the shop-window dummy facade just that—peeling away the dizzy lacquers and shellacs dampens her erotic allure, her figure abstracted, impossible to pin down or pin up. Anxiety and anger dissolve when multitudes of colour tones and textures blend into a fleshy paste. And however spontaneous and messy she seems, she executes total control, orchestrating each jagged piece of the whole.
Her bloodshot eyes point in two directions and a fistfight might explain her nose; her lips belong to a howler monkey, her hair that of someone exposed to fire. She jars the eyes and mind upon first encounter.
We draw our portraits with our hearts, not our eyes, not our clumsy hands, so if she comes across as someone who would raise alarms, make no mistake: she is expressionistic. Not on canvas, but in reality, billowing over you, covering all sight lines.
The morass of life militates against a picturesque portrayal of its minutia; her bangles and hoops make a kind of music ignored at your peril, for she comes at you quickly, jingling, her colours swirling, her thrusts hypomanic. But not all succumb to the sorcery of the moment; in some quarters love is obsolete, so too worship of the beloved. So too pursuit of her, or him. And yet her gestures possess me, as does the rainbow she arcs over everyone she dismisses or blesses.
Created long uncertain murmurs while I struggled, did I say struggled? I felt the residual heat of the blaze a little breeze fanning its flames blew way. I lay sleepless till dawn, heard horses, stamping hooves outside the ancestral home. My eyes opened in vain—balcony darkness, last words falling from face, heard voice. A dream shook all else away—bodiless voices struck doubt; an ear-chill shook me fiercely at the bones.
Dear voice, the final sank in an anteroom remix of carriage wheels, horses, whips and the yelps of a pursuant Harris tweed cattle dog. Needless to say, I left defeated, humbled, trembling. I stood near a water-trough and a guzzling mule. Eyes close-pressed, hand signalled sighing. The mule disregarded my suffering, my human feebleness, my hand. Later, tumid, stupefied, dragged my numb limbs round a black felt room wondering what the bloody hell.
Runner of the Woods
The misty peacefulness pleases the calico cat riding on the bow of the birch canoe green eyes watching the light shimmer over the glass-still river. Leaning at right angles, my body stiffens to the paddle anchoring me to the moment. One needs to balance horizontal with diagonals to achieve solidity. Somewhere that is written, let it be said. Hey cat, what do you think about us together on this little trip down a river that doesn’t flow? Also strange, the simplified landscape. No grass, no flowers, no birdsong, no birds. Where are the midges? What the. The trees look felt-suited with outlandish green hats. Perhaps they find felt sheltering & warm & life-protecting & revivifying. But that scenario tanks right quick. Cat, tell me something I do not know, that you see with your emerald stone eyes. Or we can pull a blackout curtain over the scene with purple clouds puffing up in the north, auguring few or zero cuddles in the next few hours. Paddle quick, paddle hard, coureur des bois, before we get doused. I fear for the cat, for the pretty cat who doesn’t know from coureur des bois.
Three Rubber Rooms
Blood-red-orange sky, an army of bones shivers in the dusky cool. Who painted this wall? A graffiti artist in a white cross helmet lurks near the motel pool. A grey coyote skulks near him. Everything comes for a reason. Are you hurting tonight? I ask myself. The answer is always yes, I know. What I don’t know is how to express these thick black strokes redacting my life. How do I erase them?
Questions beget more questions. The notepad begins to thicken. The flag droops as no wind furies now. The air feels like combed lamb fleece. If I rub my face against it I forget all the weasels and martins nipping at my heels and the prehistoric insects clicking by my head like sharp aluminum shears. Do I know the difference between reality and dream? Do you? This isn’t a dream per se. The conductor as such isn’t sleeping at the wheel.
Silenced, I resign myself to three soundproofed rooms where I can do whatever I fucking want. Call me mad. I don’t care. One searches psychic forests for themes but all one finds are trees, critters, rocks, and more trees. Please loosen these oxblood leather binds reddening my wrists and keeping me from lashing out at you for confining me to this psychic prison in the first place. What are we talking about here? Look at you and look at me and tell me how this happened.
Salvatore Difalco is a Sicilian Canadian writer currently living in Toronto, Canada.