| The Nude Detective | At
Barresi is the author of ALL OF THE ABOVE (1991, Beacon
Press), which won the Barnard College New Women Poets Prize, and
THE POST-RAPTURE DINER (1996, University of Pittsuburgh
Press), which won an American Book Award. She has recently completed
a new book of poetry. Her poems have been published widely in
literary journals, including Poetry, Parnassus, The Harvard
Review, The Antioch Review and The Kenyon Review, and
her essay-reviews appear semi-regularly in The Gettysburg Review.
She has been the recipient of Fellowships from the National Endowment
for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the
North Carolina Arts Council. Her poetry has been awarded a Pushcart
Prize and the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Prize. She is a Professor
of English at California State University, Northridge, where she
is Chair of the Creative Writing program. She lives in Los Angeles
with her husband, Phil Matero, and her sons, Andrew and Dante.
Barresi was the Distinguished Poet Judge for the Annual
Bordighera Poetry Prize of $2000 and bilingual book publication
for the 2001-2002 awards.
the work of this world bitter
tidy, too? Companionable in its way?
across my doorway
the dropcloths of persistent
spiders wish me no harm, gone by 6:32 A.M.
strands stick in my eyelashes and bangs,
nearly late--stupid, stupid--
cursing the strong urine by the curb,
swoonsmell of night-blooming jasmine,
coffee sloshes over
lead-bottomed commuter's cup, Have a Special Day.
is why I don't see but nearly
with the young Mexican woman
a child by his ankles, headfirst
the garbage dumpster by my car.
say son, but who can read family for sure
a tiny pair of grubby denims, no socks,
the look she doesn't give me
is pure adrenaline, black, don't say a word.
don't. What is there to say?
seagulls who routinely mistake
neighborhoods like this one
oiling: they're squealing again.
wrath or mercy it seems,
like all the broken theories and weak
of sunlight in my mouth just now,
build the workdays
sign our names to, and cross over,
cross over. So she fishes
little guy deeper, this way and that,
him in the Spanish I don't have
Budweiser cans and redeemable diet
cans come spinning at her feet,
flies rise ecstatic there, big as dimes.
in my car by now, nothing fancy.
a four-door because I've somehow recently passed
the clear age and zone
every month a bill
me of the rate of exchange
a little peace of mind on the freeways.
remember the kid at the dealership.
it or not, someone
babysat years before, in another lifetime,
one of those skim-milk mustaches now
eel-skin cowboy boots.
he called them.
was proud of those boots. We've got, he said.
think you can live with.
he was right, pretty much. Which is why
now I'm careful to warm up the engine
square my briefcase on the seat beside me,
my lipstick, too,
two or three big smacking
for the rearview mirror. Pretend ones,
that anyone seeing me must think
am two confused people at once.
tough one blowing goodbye kisses--
long, suckers!--and the other one,
touches her white face
the wheel for a second, that's all,
sets out for the outskirts of the kingdom
time, and with proper gifts.
All of the Above, Copyright © 1991 by Dorothy Barresi.
All rights reserved by the author. ]
Nude Detective (from The Post-Rapture Diner, © 1996)
devices are sensitive.
rain and in snow,
moonlight that clatters down
bright plates and crockery
a voice in the head,
stay. You lend to our windows
you some under-assistant's
not even faith or crazy envy explains
we provoke you to this patience
if our daily static can be removed,
to no on tape
way technology puts
hearts in men, or
surely we don't deserve
a careful listening.
bare attention to what we do
makes us act worse.
kiss, a gasp--
long before you drag
sunburned knuckles in some fleshly
on the ground?
long before you order moo shu pork then drip
sauce on the bedsheets?
Never Kissed and Tell, Mr.
speaking out at last.
wearing just a porkpie hat
with dark circles under wholly
eyes, we wish you'd get a life
beat if for good this time, you goddamn,
who loves us more than we love ourselves.
The Post-Rapture Diner, Copyright © 1996, by Dorothy
my son, Dante
love to watch your sleeping breath
the moving diamonds of milk and drool
the corners of your mouth.
nipple is leaking on the pillow.
mine, the bottle's.
chewed too hard for that,
though one breast made you mad with hunger
the other, and then, for something
are you now?
your diapered bottom in the air
punk variation on fetal position)
your hair matted with iron-fortified
you wore like a hat this morning,
in the land of nap's misrule
you gone to overturn me?
fingers of your left hand curl
a fist. I want to kiss them but hover instead,
your lamby-pie blanket
needs no fixing.
the pastel sheep know that.
can't I sleep?
drawers and louvered blinds, I'll find
chore to wake you yet, then cry
you have done with me
you set out to do.
cannot not mother you.
a chapbook, Mother, My Porous China, Gone]
© 1998 by Dorothy Barresi. All rights reserved.