Spring 2020, Volume 28

Poetry by Frank X. Gaspar

    (Taken from The Poems of Renata Fereira)


sun finally on the shelves, sun on the cast-iron sink
sun after the gray days of fog and the long bells
from the river, I can open a book, all the clocks stop
I admire the books, they were not put in the world
to be fucked or weep in the mornings for no reason
even though they keep all that inside themselves,
they love me best, I can read and fall asleep in the sun
the book will surrender and settle on my chest

bathing at the sink, smelling hot bread and coffee
you came behind me and squeezed lemon on your hands
you won't remember this yet, you held the hair up off my neck
and washed with the warm cloth all down my back
which is not untrue if I can get you to do it sooner or later

it's prophecy then, I make the future, my god is the god of
socrates smiled when he said that, your god is the god
of the body, the weather how the wet seeps into
some books, I open to dry their damp pages on the windowsill
and then they are meadows in the sunlight
no government can refute this, how I admire the window
how the glass panes allow so much to pass
I admire you I can't help it, you come into any room
as though you belong there no matter what, it's the way
sometimes my teeth clench without my even knowing it


my truest ardor is all danger and ecstatic, it means
that nothing is remanded, the way violence isn't

yes a kiss can be delicate but not for long
here is a violence, I gave ophelia one of your dresses
from that cardboard trunk that's in the cellar now
purple violet that one, it smelled damp
but not the way you like it, we sewed it
so it fits, when she wears it she laughs, ophelia

no one is young anymore except the young
death is like a plotline in a book, there are only
the various twists, someone could catalogue
them it would become an oracle, you and I
were immortal and now we are not
do you mind very much, the days gallop

we promise ourselves too much, we don't have
any right to, I could have been a bedouin, endless
sand and robes flowing but I am not complete
you do not complete me, I return the favor,
more reports to france england more circulars
more pamphlets more secrets, ophelia knows, she
says to put all the secrets into one word
if you were a word, anaktoria, what would you mean


take heart the pleiades haven't gone anywhere
and neither has the moon, just you and it is strange
I have to crane my neck to see the sky from my window
I talk to you like I owned a black telephone on the wall
nothing is torn from me, don't worry I don't know why
you linger, you have wilted into words or thoughts this
is important somehow, how can anyone tell where
anyone is or what, just watch how the gulls avoid this

ophelia lies on the couch alone until she lies in bed with me
I read all the time, I copy the bulletins, I eat I make soup
I make love, plus ça change plus ça la meme chose

I came back from the dead once, perdition isn't
so difficult to manage, ophelia says that's just talking
about every morning for her, you never hear angola
a zigzagged ghost of old stitches runs aslant one buttock
I trace it with my lips too often, she doesn't mind,
she calls it her colonial railroad, but all her emblems
seem so easy for her, I study her ways but of course
she will be the only one who can see past tomorrow


you are not melancholic if it's the humors
that force you down, not paranoiac
if the police truly watch you
it is correct to escape into any form
you can manage sometimes
just breathing is resistance

yes said ophelia
but don't speak too much about heroics
maybe your own struggle with who you are
isn't grand enough, you have to tether it
to a war with the regime, all your dangers
are flirtations, I know they keep you here
you like your moldy comfort

and you, ophelia, what about your own moldy comfort
you knew what was going to happen from the beginning
and what am I supposed to do differently

she brushed my cheek
not a thing, type your hopeful subversions whatever,
they change the world as much
as any army ever will

it's truth, writing and copying don't kill anyone I said

her eyes didn't move her face didn't move
you think nothing ever gets into her she
holds herself like a statue apart from everything
well I guess you have pulled ahead then, she said




BIO: Frank X. Gaspar was born and raised in the old Portuguese West End of Provincetown, Massachusetts. His poetry and fiction have received numerous awards and honors. His most recent book, The Poems of Renata Ferreira, was published in 2020.