059.1: Frank Giampetro:: Gratitude & Cold Florida Pantoum & The Rash 059

It is spring. And in Louisiana this is not a good thing. It brings that line home about what that one guy said about April, its cruelty. Although the weather is good for about a week, I begin to smell the water in the air and know what is to come. Heat and humidity. Over-air conditioned bars that breed summer colds. Men in shorts who should never wear shorts that mix with sleeveless tees. The sweat that stirs curious little rashes that we can’t name that breed staff infections. The hoards of Jazz Fest attendees that simply just breed. This week, Frank Giampietro’s work reminds me that there is deep sorrow in cyclicality, of knowing what is to come. And great joy. If I focus on tomorrow, I will never enjoy today. Sometimes that is difficult, near impossible, but nonetheless something of which I should never lose sight. There are things for which I should always be grateful, like those Midwesterners and their pasty, exposed arms. Nik De Dominic


Feeling glum about my life, I watched a documentary about a conflict in Chad in the eighties. In the film, a man revisits a place where he and forty men were packed shoulder to shoulder into a tiny open-air cell. When the sicker prisoners began to die because of the heat and lack of water, the living pleaded with the guards to take the dead away. But the guards told them to wait until two were dead, then it was three, then four—the guards said then they would take them all. But after three, the prisoners stopped asking and instead took turns lying on the bodies, would fight for position especially when the sun beat on the south wall, because the bodies were so much cooler than anywhere else in the cell.

Cold Florida Pantoum

Lately it’s been so cold here in Florida
iguanas are falling from the trees.
I’m hiding inside our house.
They’re not dead, they’re just cold.

Iguanas are falling from the trees.
I know because one fell on my head.
They’re not dead, they’re just cold.
It felt like a scratchy bag of new potatoes.

I know because one fell on my head.
No, it was more like a dead cat
in a scratchy bag of new potatoes
only heavier and with sharp claws.

No, it was more like our dead cat
my children woke up to Sunday morning
only heavier and with sharp claws
grief made sharper with my garden spade.

My children woke up Sunday morning to
me hiding inside our house
grief made sharper with my spade.
Lately it’s been so cold here in Florida.

Self-Portrait as a Rash

To the wife the rash seems sullen and lazy this evening.
           The doctor says it’s hives and if this is your skin,
                      imagine your heart, you’ve only yourself to blame.

The rash tries harder, says well instead of good, remembers
                                 to ask the supermarket cashier how she is doing,
                      loves the smooth surface of her matronly arms.

           The rash lies in the sun-damaged hammock,
                      admires the dead hummingbird’s wing.
                                 Dreaming, the rash spreads, heads north,
blue as imagination.

           The rash wanders fields, kills the shepherd
                                                       so the sheep will scatter,
                      makes more plans to brighten the world with its power,

           is strongest on the weakest of chins.