P O E T S ON THE LINE
a continuing anthology
Founded by Andrew Gettler & Linda Lerner
NO. 9 & 10 T H E M I L L E N N I U M I S S U E
Edited by Linda Lerner
On the day Carmine Persico set the record straight:
It was he, the Snake, and not Crazy Joe Gallo
Who exhaled smoke through the body of Albert Anastasia,
A man called our house, with a voice made of iron filings.
He wanted to speak to you, not me.
In fact, he wouldn't tell me anything.
I knew the voice, through: they used to come after me,
Too, before you stepped between. Something
was about to be turned off, or garnisheed,
Or stopped, or repossessed,
just as I knew, when you came home,
You would make the mollifying call,
Buy us a few more weeks,
Until the money could be squeezed from one pocket
To another. You hold me at night,
And it means I no longer have to
Sleep hiding under the bed, barricading
each side with books and pizza boxes, wondering
If they can see my feet sticking out,
Wondering if they have dogs,
Wondering if they have heat-seeking missiles.
It means more than that,
Having you, and there should be ribaldries about your breasts
In these lines, or sudden yelps of passion;
But I know they're out there:
The night whistles with the whiz-bangs,
Every new moon brings a new tide of threats,
And the moon only waxes and bloats,
The tide only comes in.
If the Crazies don't get you,
There are Snakes whose designs
Are unspeakably worse,
And deliverance is more than guys like me ever expected.
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