Selected Poems by Ben Nardolilli
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
At the Pentagon, you can’t march
up to the building
and plant flowers in a protest for peace,
you can’t even walk up to the stone
columns and shout
up at the windows to call for another war
fences, parking lots, and vehicles
ready for homicide
have shut off that freedom for now
but driving past the Pentagon at night,
discloses the freedom
of imagination with the lights they put up
all around the level asphalt plains,
in a medium of orange and yellow glare
We gather around the table and despite
My attempts to make things nautical and shifty,
The other members of this suburban crew
Are content and competent at keeping subject matters level,
No action, direction, or spinning comes tonight.
The gentry swirls its wine while I take to cocktails,
There are skirmishes with laughter and nothing explodes,
The talk engages us all, but no treaties are drawn up
Nothing is declared or ultimately ratified,
Nevertheless, we pose for pictures for posterity’s sake,
I strive to pull and push the group until I realize
I am only tugging the tablecloth, while minds remain in place
Applauding minor developments in real estate,
Oh my friends, if you all are going to be bystanders
To a burning Rome, at least strike up your fiddles.
The Idea of Ordering at Cocoa Beach, Florida
Strange trembling and shaking,
when faced with the wide open sea,
the world of this bar sits
above the waves, tides, and salinity,
but I’ll let the surf ride under me
because I am the king
and lord over these planks.
End of the country line, yet so fine
to be a point on it,
creaking, dangling, sipping,
active even as I sit still on the barstool,
I grab ahold of everything tangible
to keep my eyes afloat here,
and down a glass of ice for ballast.
“What are you teaching now?”
I think it’s impossible to give a general answer.
Wild and sophisticated, the demon box is fiction,
there are other books that are being kept, real books,
nothing I’m teaching is real
Yes, I pivoted out of substitutions into a classroom,
bearded and hanging on the wall.
Can I hold my pose and not scream at the faces?
I saw that there was a terrific power to these faces
and masks, especially the eyes
You can be an expert at teaching and crude in practice,
the raised outlines of a seal in an enlargement.
The boldness has to be ambiguous
in a close race against students, neck and neck
correcting until you overcorrect and hit a car to your left
I teach whatever I happen to be working on myself.
It’s meant a lot to me as a human being,
neither the merits nor the burdens of real teaching,
looking at reproductions for impulses, and drawing
the Last Supper on tracing paper
What I Got Away With
I tried to be good today, especially at work,
Whatever temptation I give into at home
I know is only a problem for me,
Certainly no theft of a company's time, money,
Or keyboards is involved there,
But at work today, I sinned greatly.
I evolved a new skill, at least,
How it may profit the boss is a mystery,
I think I am developing chameleon eyes,
Capable of keeping one ball
Open over my shoulder, perched as a lookout,
And the other focused on the screen.
Other cubicles complained, I told them
I was simply going through
A defragmentation of files stored
in the main frame of my skull,
it worked and kept away my chief concern:
Human Relations wanting to read what I wrote.
Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.