053.1: James Capozzi:: Lux Mundi 053

Jim Capozzi's "Lux Mundi" nestles comfortably in disrupted landscapes, where the bucolic, serene natural world endures the violence of a post-manufacture, post-industrial America, with its gutted scenery of shattered concrete and twisted rebar entrails. To fuse these sensually paradoxical and palpable landscapes demonstrates Capozzi's love for the haunted interiority of Michael Burkard and the broken, vivid and hallucinatory exteriors found in Denis Johnson's poems. Such is evident in the last sequence of "Lux Mundi," which begins:

     Nothing has really changed
     except the streets you go through
     without walking, making noises
     like a voice you haunt/invent
     the empty streets. A honey
     suckle's fog impels you
     through the rusty backdrop
     breathing it, the bleacher's
     grooved aluminum, acre of entropic elms.

I am inclined to call this sensibility "Antithetical Wordsworth," one that contravenes the tenet of Romanticism that true poetic splendor is to be found in the natural world. The admonishment and horror of Wordsworth in his Preludes when encountering the spiritual decay in and about the urbane is duly noted and responded to. The redemption exists in the Capozzi's love for the place, the love for its falling apart, and the love for its broken pieces as well.

The redemption also exists in the speaker's love for other people that he (and therefore we) encounter along the way. To the redheaded drinker in the beginning of the poem who wears "hammered copper bracelets" from Argentina, to the debauched friends at a party he and we arrived late to, Capozzi's heart knows no sputter when in the presence of the ridiculous and the imperfect that describes our condition too often. Cody Todd

Lux Mundi


At the same time
a redheaded woman
sits down beside me
on a vinyl stool
and begins her disquisition
on the cigaret/tobacco tax.

It’s transfixing, and systematic
it expands to incorporate the state
in all its untamed glory
City Gardens
the disused bar in which we sit

the hammered copper bracelets
on her forearms

found in a deserted bracelet factory

in Buenos Aires


my light

and lungs


which I assume by now are glowing


her voice precursor to a madness

the whole world must participate . . .




*          *          *          *          *



In this dream you walk
in the City of Younger
and Younger Women,
end of June. The slant
sunlight down the avenue
fires your profile
in a bankface: not without
a rehearsed calm
and angle, a way
you posit your jaw against
an hour. The city in this
hour between two stupors
slows, kneels down,
takes you in its underwater
buslight–
the faces break tame, timid.
Night falls in the industrial zone.
You ride in
silence to meet your friends
but when you arrive at the marina
they’re already wasted.
They try to eat but the chowder
falls from their mouths.
Everyone’s staggering around
repeating themselves, so
you go back to your
decrepit duplex with
a view of the river.



*          *          *          *          *



All of yourself impostured in 
this house: deferent, perceptibly slumped. 
No domineering father,you wake up
long buried in his cancer,

inheres, rather an intuition thatunder an antique desk
the floodplain delivered up this house,its wired and levers
then this house itself its resident.looming like
Mornings: noise the joists make settling

is beyond your infant understanding-a map of hell
muscle memory, not understood 
but ringing just the same 
 the movement of
in the detached room your heart’s become.the river lights
Where, sure only of the life of your own words,the wall
you affect an accent, gestate wildly.




*          *          *          *          *



The river of the world
don’t do much either
to cheer one up.
The calves are driven
over the stone
bridge into a door
like a smoking mouth.
Downriver
the pumphouse
breathes out,
a rowboat asks,
the falls applaud.
Downriver
in the venerable Teatro Real
great plumes of smoke
go up from the gallery
into the spotlight,
black and white,
life affirming.
                       Into this
breath visible the mesmerist
inquires: Good People,
why do you kick like
a calf with its neck split?
How do you cry
with your throat opened?
Doesn’t this world persist
in thinking your true name,
and the coy arabess
as she steps into
the small train that leaves
for the country
at sundown?



*          *          *          *          *



At night I shamble down
the wide pine planks
laid end-to-end
on sucking mud
past the stockyard
into a “town”
razed and rebuilt
four times by fire

At night the murderous
policia proselytize
by an enormous pyre
rising from the plaza
but the woman in
her tan cravat seems . . .
heterodox
               I feel her
through the mob–a slight
expansion in her ribcage–
because the night is tactile
and erotic
               The imagination also
holds her up
ferocious at her cache
of subversive material
and antiquated clothing
beneath a portrait of William Barret Travis

I follow her down

Her wild swale of red hair

In the morning the two of us
commit adultery in the sea



*          *          *          *          *



I don’t know when it started.

I was a child, that’s all
I remember. The power of

our small courtyard–

its plums, thyme. The shrub that wept
when we caressed it.

My brother Sacha

blew in his enormous voice
for more delicious lychee.

We played dead among the statuary.

At night

the sky got dark

so we could sleep.


One day in a film
my stone boat waits for me.

The sea is calm, the sky is

vacant. The sea is calm
and transparent. I have been

waiting to take the deep air

into my lungs, to saturate them.
             I raise the oar–

look, a porpoise. A cloud with the night behind it

that’s all I remember.

Like a child I come to tell you
how moved I was, and am.



*          *          *          *          *



Nothing has really changed
except the streets you go through
without walking, making noises
like a voice you haunt/invent
the empty streets. A honey
suckle’s fog impels you
through the rusty backstop
breathing it, the bleacher’s
grooved aluminum, acre of entropic elms.
A vague area
beyond the elms, with bramble, coalesces–
onset of the other regions of our future
where I see you every now and then
denuded in the claustrophobic heat
peering in, breathing my breath.