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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Four Poems
by Anthony DiMatteo
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The Allowance

The sky tonight is sealed in gray
As if a steely hand closed it up
In the bottom of a shallow cup,
And there is no place to dream or pray.
I cannot travel among the stars.
My walk is blotted into the dark.
Even the trees call for no remark.
Yesterday the moon twisted your hair,
And your arms were tender and bare.
Silence has come out of this night
To sink the earth, a wandering bark
Heard only once in the pallid air.
I cleave to the memory of your light.
May night's cold fingers trace no mark.
For My Daughter
- Some Adult Ramblings

And Rantings
To Peruse
At her leisure
on or after
her 18th birthday -
First of all, I promise never to say
On the phone or otherwise
"This is not homework. This is life."
This is "homejoy" or where the heart is.
As for Polonius, beware.
Wisdom never finds words brief enough.
The door that has a threshold has a staircase
Into the clear light of day. We can walk there.
But the path of the self casts no shadow,
Invisible, beautiful, dangerous sun
That glows in the darkness within.
It can fly or walk or crawl back into bed,
On the prowl for the scent of a dream,
Imaginary meadows of real flowers
Or the mountains that rise above them.
Walking along gay with life tests the
Boundaries others have put there.
A path will slowly emerge that you have
Become rather than walked.
It proves unexplainable,
Perhaps, and the real night grows inside.
Stars stand ahead of us that we begin to count.
A call of the wild to account for itself
Begins inside of us. Eighteen is no different
Than two or forty-six where we stand
Beneath the moon and the sun, the clouds,
And the perennial flowers of our bodies
Felt where the mind sees the light's flow.
So the question of age is near irrelevant.
Death has always been there anyway.
The nights ahead are long and deep,
And the days grow faster behind us.
Love thyself as thou would the deer
Or trees or anything alive and there
Will be plenty of love to give.
That is my best advice, hopefully, little,
But of some use, my daughter,
In the nook and cranny of thy select brain
That knows your mother, who knows
Your father different than you and me
Or you and her together in different
Pathways. Split the forest softly
With soft shoes and big steps.
Leave no trace other than what you must.
My beautiful daughter, the world's luck
Is to have you in it, the way
Waterfalls or turtles or the
Whatever it is you find in the outside,
The beautiful sun of your mind.
And may there be no delay in your loves.
Call me or Mom or whoever the person
We have become, you will know who we are
As we become other than your parents,
Just people, creatures of the universe.
The forest of life is deep. See the path
Among its imaginary trees.
Duck when you have to even if
The branches up close don't seem
To be there. Spy on yourself,
If you have to, to see what you have
Really been doing and feeling.
Understand yourself like a foreign
Country over which you must establish
Sovereignty because its population
Is only one. In your small kingdom
Of your body, be your own master
And guard the solitude of your peace.
I will be your early warning scout,
If you like, because I've probably
Been there, done that. True, no one walks
Alike or dreams but there's only one way
To hold hands. May there be gentleness there
For you. I will guard your right to choose
Your goals or your friends or your lover
And how to respect yourself as a person
No one can ever own or mistreat
Through self-allowance or my ignorance.
Yes, I've probably said too much again.
And been unclear when it's deepest.
Fly the wings you have I've shown.
They are your own and wonderful.
And now I can't wait to give you this poem
To be read in the liberty of your freedom.

Poem for Thursdays in Late Winter

The branches reach into the seams
Above their dancing edges full of ice,
A silence in the wind, a quiet sky.
Bereavement of the year, why do
These feelings have no precedent
In the tender reaches of your clouds?

The Motive of Saint Francis

Where in the world were you,
In what orb of the mind did you dwell
When out among the beasts of the forest,
The homeless and the desperate you gave
Your will to God and the holiness of things?
In the clutter you left behind, all
The abandoned furnishings of your followers,
The darkened nightstands, the broken vows,
The tables, tapestries, the damasked halls
Where the tapers would gutter a final time
As footfalls faded out into the night,
No reason could be found for your exile.
The coffers were full and the wardrobes fine.
The prompting was the sun, the example
Of its halo shining in acceptance,
The steady light of its giving its life.
The wilderness is no wasteland
But the denial of the vacancy of man.
The heavy wonder of the rain
In teeming falls over the mossed lip,
The bird's cry that pierces the morning
Coming up the crease where valley rises below
In wondrous adornments of the sun,
Who would not dance for the lord in such places
When dancing is a way the river flows,
When the voice of the father is the wind
And that of the mother the dews of morn?
Ecstasy has its responsibilities.
The love of God overcomes the fear,
And reserve held back out of pride
Brings a misery to the stones no shadow
Of the day can cast, for it is of the mind,
Its creeping before death that spurs
An anxious hoarding. Fear not the flight
Of the sparrow or the howling of the wolf.
The open wound of the night can be healed
In the trusting heart. Give over to the love
Of the moon, the face of the lonely beggar,
The tripping walk of the vagrant child,
The deep knot of the hundred year oak.
Live careless in the day, spendthrift
Of the soul, that gives itself away.
Who would strive for sainthood
In the shade when speaking the glories
Of the wood and fields can do no better
Lest it were starving children one would feed.
Inside the mind there is a halo of itself,
The miracle is the reality of its light.
One does not bask alone in such heaven,
One needs to spread love like leaven,
Thus the birds and bees, the brooks and gleaves,
There is no bounty that does not please
The warm blood of hands in tender mercy held.
O Francis, you knew what was heaven's gold,
For in forests free you did set your goal,
To love mankind more than any soul,
And your legacy to us is a holy song.

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