July 2014 Sestinas
Raisin Bran and Sliced Tomatoes
“I must be mad,” I tell myself. This morning
just before I woke, Michel Foucault
called me to the kitchen of my youth and asked
“Which sandwich do you want for lunch?” One
was ham with pepperjack, the other sliced tomatoes.
Michel was played by Morgan Fairchild.
The last time I saw Morgan Fairchild
she was scheming her way through an evening
soap called “Fashion House,” slinging tomatoes
and marble cheesecake at Bo Derek. Foucault—
who once wrote, “There is not one
but many silences”—would not have asked
to change the channel. He might have asked
which one was which. “Morgan Fairchild,”
I’d explain, “is the ageless one
with style and cheekbones.” “Ah, good evening
would say to the screen, “you look lovely in tomatoes.”
“No, Bo Derek is wearing tomatoes
over a pound of peach concealer.” What, he would ask,
was she concealing? “Foucault,”
I’d sigh, “you, unlike Morgan Fairchild,
are best savored in bits, a line or two with morning
coffee, like an impossible crossword, one
arresting difficulty at a time.” “More than one
person,” he would quote himself, like a tomato
sandwich served with morning
coffee, “writes to have no face.” “Asked
and answered,” I might add: “Look at Morgan—
isn’t she beautiful?” But Michel Foucault
would Google Michel Foucault
and, reading of his death, cry out, “Must one’s
truth be a visible secret? I was once a child,
too, an unripe fruit who sliced tomatoes
over raisin bran and never asked
why answers only arrive in the morning.”
It’s almost morning now, Michel Foucault.
You have asked one question too many.
Have a tomato. And say goodnight to Morgan Fairchild.
“You will jump a thousand puddles.”
I take this metaphorically, steering clear of street
encounters, watching what I say in bed.
Sometimes something must be said, because silence
itself is a puddle one jumps when it isn’t mined like silver.
Say something: A boat
grows in Brooklyn. A forest is a pad of paper. O, Boat
of easy origami, sailing on a filthy puddle,
I name you Lady Hi-Ho-Silver
in honor of an aging stripper. The street’s
no place to leave a lover. Silence
kills. Soundbite: What you do in bed
connects everyone everywhere. In bed
we act out folded dreams, sail like boats
the greedy silence
of sleep, the ocean a puddle,
a pathway, a street.
Should I say a thing or two about silver
or keep such stories—my coinage, my silver—
to myself? When I hopped in bed
with a boy from the country, I forgot my street.
He came from wheat, knew nothing of boats,
so when I said let’s cross the puddle
to Paris his silence
was the silence
of one who believes all is possible with some silver
and a lick of luck. He wasn’t a puddle
but I jumped him anyway. Out of bed
I drew a thousand boats—
sleek prams penciled red sailing narrow straits
and wide oceans, thousands of miles from the street
where we met, on the silence
of paper once a forest, where boats
become dreams mined like silver.
My bumpkin lives in Portland now. In bed
I wonder: east or west? Memory is one more puddle.
A boat is balanced on a puddle.
The street strips all except our silence.
Instead of silver, add “In bed” to every fortune.
Tony Leuzzi is the author of Radiant Losses (New Sins Press 2010) and The Burning Door (Tiger Bark Press 2014). In 2012, BOA Editions released Passwords Primeval, Leuzzi's interviews with 20 American Poets.