Deep Deuce

By Robert Polito b. 1951 Robert Polito
As phantoms direct life from the shadows,
 
                                                                              I feel
I leaned on something,
                                          and it broke.
 
My father on the porch with his crosswords said,
this must be what it feels like to be dead;
 
When I returned from the dead there was no one to greet me,
but still you are glad—
 
I wander the ruins the way my tongue
wanders my missing teeth,
the bricks and mortar of Deep Deuce
rotted like molars in an ancient mouth;
 
Here Charlie Christian might have walked—
 
The astrologer counseled patience
and creative imaging:
 
                                 Step One: Visualize
an object that symbolizes the accursed influence. Picture yourself throwing
it into a furnace.
 
                                 Step two: Visualize
the person who is responsible for the curse. Imagine one end of a rope
is tied around your waist and the other around that person. Picture yourself cutting
the rope with a chainsaw as you call out, “You have no power over me!”
 
                                 Step three: Repeat
twice a day for eleven days . . .
 
You visualize her green boots inside the furnace . . .
 
—No. You are in a crematorium and you see
her perfect and corruptible body on a tray sliding into fire;
 
Then you see yourself cutting the rope that ties you together with a saw;
 
And then at last your own imperfect and corruptible body—I mean, me—calls out
 
and I jump in after her.

Robert Polito, "Deep Deuce" from Hollywood & God. Copyright © 2009 by Robert Polito.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Hollywood & God (University of Chicago Press, 2009)

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Poet Robert Polito b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

 Robert  Polito

Biography

Poet and scholar Robert Polito was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned his PhD from Harvard and has served as director of Creative Writing at The New School for two decades. Polito became the second president of the Poetry Foundation in July 2013.

Polito’s collections of poetry include Hollywood & God (2009) and Doubles (1995). His poetry blends narrative and lyric impulses, drawing on both American pop culture and literary . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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