October 15-21, 2001: Philip Vassallo and Jessy Randall

week of October 15-21, 2001

Philip Vassallo
Jessy Randall

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Philip Vassallo

Bio (auto)

I am New Jerseyan by way of The Bronx, New York, and of Maltese ancestry I live in Parlin, New Jersey, and work as a corporate a communication consultant primarily developing and deliveringwriting and presentation skills programs I was a professor of writing inseveral colleges I hold a B.A in English from Baruch College, an M.S inreading education from Lehman College, and a doctorate in educational theoryfrom Rutgers University
I have published over 75 poems in websites including Red Booth Review, Cyber Oasis, Decathlon2000, Open Sewer, Snakeskin, Wilmington Blues, Twelfth Planet, Electric Acorn, Poetry Webring, Lucid Moon, Artistic Wasteland, Librium Implant, Some Words, and as well as in various print journals I have also published over 100 articles as a freelance journalist and essayist My column on education issues, The Learning Class, has been published in various newspapers and magazines across the nation and on EducationNews.org In addition, I write a column on writing issues, Words on the Line, which appears in etc , the journal of the International Society for General Semantics Seven of my plays have been produced Off-Off Broadway I was a recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts playwriting fellowship, and a finalist in three national playwriting competitions My play The Spelling Bee&Mac226; was published by Samuel French My wife Georgia and I recently celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and we are the parents of two daughters, Elizabeth and Helen, both fine poets in their own right Visit Phil on the web here: www.PhilVassallo.com

The following work is Copyright © 2001, and owned by Philip Vassallo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Photo of My Father Working, or,
The Work a Butcher Does

(For My Father)

Racks of beef hang
from ceiling hook in a sterile
room at zero Celsius The butcher’s block stacked
with fat tied by cord in slumping
rows The butcher’s torso
tenses from clutching
a cleaver and a ten-pound
brisket He tenders his trade
to the wholesale market, slicing
the carcass to the bone,
his apron smeared with gristle
and blood, huffing the rawness
of freshly slaughtered meat
He stands in two
of his three dimensions in the cold
controls of the room, the smoking
bulb suspended overhead like a feeble,
wheezing sun His Timex
is frozen He keeps time
by the flanks he trims and the weight
of his knife, legs numb, mind
wondering how the circulation
stops in a working man’s body He sees
the offal scattered on the concrete
floor, and his bare forearms take
the shape of choice cut legs of lamb
The taste of nicotine and caffeine
have long deserted his lips,
for he has licked the salty frost
dripping from his nostrils
all morning How does the blood
stop flowing? He laughs And laughs Till he coughs And coughs And the coughing
doesn’t stop as easy
as the laughter Must be time
for lunch when breathing is a job He flexes his fists, inhales the steam
seeping from his nostrils as he
slogs from the room His Timex
thaws: eighteen years
to an early retirement.

Mortality: a Microscopic View

It happened:
the swash of man and woman striction,
their hydrology gushing denser than rain,
apogee of flesh astounding the blood!
Then you were there It was life you felt
but the waiting had just begun
Darkness was light incarnate You could see from the uterus:
a mucus glossed over the shadows
of circumspection You measured
the distance between yourself
and the filtered light through f-stop 64 You could hear from the uterus:
the heart pulsated in a sound-proof chamber,
magnified by the ceaseless echo
of a hemidemisemiquaver You could feel from the uterus:
the capillaries ignorantly working
till the day you were born
Now you say there is a chance
for feeling this again,
this which happens only once
in an unaccounted millisecond The moment moves, always,
but not for you to relive it For you it came and went,
dripped, puddled, burst, and streamed
beyond your life span So you remain fixed,
suspended in the midst of a dive,
perpetually framed in a potential purpose

feeling through the membranes for the current.

Weekend Gardeners

He roughed his flesh against the garden path,
smearing flat the earth with the blood he sapped,
drop by precious clot, from its root system

as she tailored the hedges to a buzzsaw conformance,
the trimmings ricocheting off the sod
on which she once lay with him through nightfall
When the dust of their labors settles in sheets
on the matted blades of grass and the fibers of squashed insects,
this man and woman shall embody human development

by ascending to the bedroom ten feet above earth
under the fury of electric lights
to discuss the fine points of gardening.

Late Night City Poem

And now the floodlights
of your room can’t illuminate

the darkness outside At your window
only your reflection and you

on stage for any passerby
caring to look up thirty-one floors

to where you stand At this moment
millions of lonely men and women

lie in beds across the city
staring through slats of blinds

and locked windows, themselves
a dominion of sleeping buoys

never fully stopping, bobbing
behind steel doors, concrete walls

each gasping for the same air
blinded by lampposts, straining their eyes

to see the same stars
waiting for the same morning
For the millions it’s always night
always almost with their millions

of feet pushing madly
against tightly tucked bedsheets

and what passes
for passing time.

Technological Abortions

Most things are made to die fast,
start sputtering down the advertised path,
then stop without a spark or a screech
before the first connection,

like this digital watch,
noiselessly spitting liquid crystals
and wasted surges of passing time
in a temporary, push-button efficiency,

or this pocket calculator,
beeping disjointed neon lights
to the echoic tune of the touch tone
for a perfunctory convenience,

or even this rechargeable pacemaker,
pumping people past their fragile limits
like quasi-exceptions to the law of nature,
bypassing practical, erstwhile innovations.

The Recording of Experience

The past is printed on negatives
blotched with blood congealed to twice
the length of hair strands pulled from eyebrows
as we slept in different cities,

as the present repeats like faded snapshots
taken by strangers on separate vacations,
smudged by fingerprints and reeking of smoke,
filed at random in bargain scrapbooks,

as the future is projected on shop windows
where my camera focuses on the reflection
between the stare of indifferent mannequins
and the image of you posing behind me.

Jessy Randall

Bio (auto)

Jessy Randall is Curator of Special Collections at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO Her poems have appeared in Pif, The Blue Moon Review, and Mudfish, and the 2River View has published an illustrated collection of her work at http://www.2river.org/chapbooks

The following work is Copyright © 2001, and owned by Jessy Randall and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Telephone Solicitation Haikus

it’s your lucky day
a very special offer
and it’s just for you

it’s your lucky day —
of ninety million people
you’ve been selected!

a blizzard of snow
a catastrophic fire
are you protected?

little drops of rain
splatter against the window
where’s your umbrella?

I have a quota,
Mr or Mrs Randall —
can’t you please help me?

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