Posted by: Rachel Mallino | September 8, 2009

Dysfunctional Batch #12 – Dorothy DiRienzi

About the (dys)functional poet :
Dorothy DiRienzi has been an editor and indexer for over 35 years, and is currently employed at Arizona State University in Tempe. She has published in Friends Journal, Passager, Slab, Mid-America Poetry Review, Poetry MidWest, and MO: Writings from the River. She recently received her MFA in creative writing from ASU.


It was the tuxedo, I think,
silk lapels shimmering under the spotlight,
that caught her eye.
Certainly not the violin—
high gleam of polished oil—
or the bow tacking the current of notes,
keeping the dance afloat.
In the frenzy of castenets she saw him,
sweat runneling between her tiny breasts,
where she had pinned a silk gardenia.

O mother of the whirlwind
temper-tantrum champion of witless nights,
close your eyes.

Joe Channels Mom—Leaving
Her nails and crooked mouth
scrabbling behind your wide eyes—
I knew she had come through. Here, again,
denying, changing facts as fast
as squids change into landscape,
mottling color to seep into rock,
into coral, into nothingness
before quick tentacles overcome, flick
a naïve fish to scum. ……………I am that fish:
stupid to air, to teeth
behind the beaked lip, gray haze
of mucus-laden eyes sloping into soul.

You came to me with shine and splash,
scenes silvered for light and color.
But silver finally filters down,
its dazzle pitted in salt and silt,
abyssal plain.

O brother, cycladic Eros,
I dreamed a different coming through—
when common blood would make us new,
let us understand why the welts she raised
splayed different on me, on you. Then knowing,
weep together, breach
slammed doors, the closeted grief.

Then you simply left.
How she drubbed that into us,
her shrill threats scouring
like tidal currents in a bore. Again
and forever, my wrecked diver,
it remains

her siren song,
about her,………about leaving
and no regrets.

“Don’t take that damned dirt road,” she said,
from where the headlights funneled
into the Nash.  Dad and I knew the code:
Anyone civilized would’ve lived on a paved street.

Going ’round, we’d be late for dinner,
and Grandmom Tilly would have her revenge.

………………..That man never did get out of debt.

Up country, the dark
folds down fast behind cars.
Deep and soft, it let me hide
from those sparking words,
till one flew back
on the wind,
like Mom’s lit butt-tip.
I always looked front though,
when the whitewashed walls
of Goshenhoppen boneyard
rose up ahead—where they buried
……………Tilly, and Heshie, but first Will—
to see what spectre hunkered there
scribbling into my nights. ….Then,
in the glare at the dog-leg turn
…………..panic like a rabbit,
……………………….lie low.



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