The Irish American and Italian American poetry journal Feile-Festa, Frank Polizzi, Editor, held its 5th Annual Literary Arts Journal at the KGB Bar in the Village in New York City on May 15, 2010. As he had accepted my poem "Screaming Like a Banshee" for the journal, he invited me to read it there. Who could pass up a chance to read poetry in the Village?
Fortunately, my brother Hank was good enough to drive in and out of the city. As he used to be a cab driver while at Temple University, he was the perfect guy to get me there...and back. He is the handsome gent in blue in these photos, and the one who squeezed my Honda Fit into the space in front of KGB you see below.
Frank's email about the reading had an interesting observation about literary journals, like his, that publish literary works in contrast to the academic/government literary complex that spends so much tax payer money but produces so little of lasting value.
My wife screams like a banshee
to cover wailing with neutral sound
when my toddler Eamon fights her
when my toddler Eamon fights her
and refuses to take a nap.
I hear Grandmom Curley screamed
like a banshee when the telegram arrived
from the War Department in 1945
to tell her the oldest, Frank, the one
who was supposed to be the Jesuit,
instead had been killed in action
turned his B-24 into a fireball
on his 39th mission over Haha Jima
in an ocean grave in the South Pacific.
Grandmom Curley screamed
like a banshee for weeks
until they hooked her up
and shot electricity through her brain
to cover wailing with neutral sound.
She never screamed like a banshee again.
Instead, she wailed so deep down for 20 years
because the hole in her heart was so vast,
laughter was no longer a planet in her galaxy
and the only way people would describe her was,
“She was never the same after Frank died in the Pacific.”
Girl at the Deli
never been before all summer hot and friggin’ angry
and there, behind the counter, she stands,
lips big enough for a zip code,
hair as fine as spun satin and silk
and skin that breaks your heart in two.
You look right at her and stammer, “c..c..coffee”
and she says back, “two or three sugars?”
and you stumble again “uh...two...uh...three”
and cotton wads grow in your mouth,
you smile wanly and she smiles back
so unspoiled and athletic and young
and that chemical reaction starts
once again life has possibilities.
She brings you a cup of coffee
and you sip it and want to spit it out
because it tastes like its been there since World War II
but you smile instead because you notice
how fine and bright and clean her eyes speak to you now
and although you want to say “Dear God,
How can you sell this turpentine as coffee?!”
You smile again and gulp it down quickly
and say, “Just what I needed! Hits the spot real well!”
And she smiles and says, “Best for miles around!
And now you know the chemical explosions
are going off in her brain too,
so you drink some more coffee
that is so toxic and strong and fierce
that your taste buds have all mutinied
but even it cannot kill the wonderful chemicals
that now grant you the absolution, benediction,
and grace of love and suddenly you know
Robert Graves knew what he was talking about,
for here, between the provolone cheese and the Zinfandel wine,
is clear and living proof of the unbroken chain
between the ancient Celts and the current White Goddess.