Bestiary

posted Sep 18, 2012

I consider the famous poet’s majesty when he recites

          an ode to my ass—Left Bank beret askew on the alopecia,

                    an expired visa, sardonic deployment of Dada.

After the reading, holding court in the chiaroscuro,

                    partaking of éclairs and smoked scotch—

                                                      Is this tasteless? he asks.

Yes, though we have a kind of alliance,

          his come-ons for my silence; his bouquet of internet meme

                    for my—how to say?—proximity, as in the documentary

where a man lives among Kodiak bears and gets eaten.

                    As in, of course I get in the car and he blasts

                                                      “Giant Steps” all the way to the pier

why not admit that the weather is, at least, panegyric?

          With his Zippo aglow, he speaks of a wife whose name,

                    might be Vera, who might be a surrealist reporter,

a connoisseur of vodka, omnivorous in her housedress.

                    One hand touring the ecotone of my back, he mimics

                                                      Khrushchev, he makes himself laugh,

and I remember a family trip to Fort Lauderdale, the marina

          where my father admired other men’s

                    boats. I never spoke there either, a pure spectator,

though manatees swam beneath our feet, so free

                    I wanted to smash a fist beneath the surface.

                                                      One’s back had been cut by a propeller.

Is this scary? it seemed to cry, Would you like to join me?

          I did not reply. Was that tasteless? Was that an invitation?

                    Does silence mean consent? Too many highballs,

bottom-feeders, one-liners; it’s like sitting at the stern

                    of a glass-bottom boat watching blowfish,

                                                      how they devour chunks of cheap white bread.

Kara Candito is the author of Taste of Cherry, winner of the 2008 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her work has been published in AGNI, Blackbird, The Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and The Rumpus, and elsewhere. A recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Santa Fe Arts Institute, Candito is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. For more information please visit her website.

Candito’s poem “Dying in an Earthquake in Mexico City” also appears in this issue.