Poems: James Capozzi

Travail of the Paisans

They aren’t even free, you know. They don’t earn.
How can I be free if they aren’t. If they won’t.

If I set them free we might be free together
bathed in the dirt of the fields

but setting them free is not a freedom.
It’s a real ordeal

though there in the fields I might
come to understand why they aren’t.

It shouldn’t be a freedom, working through
the reasons they aren’t, but there is

real freedom in pretending I don’t
enjoy it, that free they don’t earn.

Get a load of this small girl
riding up on her pony full of joy.

Her joy is a trap. It can never tell me why they aren’t.
And who is she to be so happy anyway.

And no I will not “come down off the cross”
thank you very much.

On Late Style

To smile is to transmit a good. To make one’s voice cruel is bad.

It’s bad to feel your voice turned cruel
out of left field, there in the Pathmark parking lot.

To feel the badness of your person.

Why are you so cruel to me
I mew during “the fight”

but you have only made your voice cruel

to instruct me
because I was “a real asshole,” calling you casually cruel

only for instructing me

for feeling you are pervaded by badness.
For instructing my feelings, which, I admit, are profoundly

laughably inadequate. I don’t know what’s going on.

You are wrapped in a cardigan
making me feel bad. Don’t you feel my love for you

booming through the dairy aisle

multifarious and durable
which is the condition to which all cruelties aspire

if you need me to spell it out for you.

To Get Ready for Death

every day I sleep one minute later
already I’ve buried sunrise / seven am
already I’ve outlived the sun overhead

in a high open space
the time has gone where
one pm went / when time goes
good morning and goodbye

it’s six in the evening
when the sun’s crescent fills cafes
with tired workers

sipping wine nibbling peanuts
cursing their stupid bosses
until late / nine or ten sometimes
when their slow arc bends back home

in the dark I myself will lie down soon
to eternal sleep like a saint
and this pains me as / I’m not big on Christians
after Celaya
James Capozzi is the author of Country Album (Parlor Press, 2012), which won the New Measure Poetry Prize. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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