Post Road Magazine #14

Heather Hartley

Partner, My Partner
           —Naples, Italy

My spaghetti western love, I come to you ragged and leggy
from the spanky suburbs of the East Coast of America,
all bones and heat to meet you in the dark pushy
alleys of your native streets—edicola, duchy, vicolo.

Ride me away in your old Opel horse
to the kingdom of Napoli, Forcella,
to the Devil’s Fork, where balcony to balcony
women jabber back and forth stirring endless pots of sauce.

Here our duels are horizontal, monumental
in back streets where the law won’t step foot anymore—
we spar in the dark on floral bedspreads
with long sweet shoot-outs at two and three and four.

As your sidekick—for now at least—
we hit towns one by one—Lauro, Nola, Avellino—
names that sound like lace on arms—
but none have the feral, fragile sound of Napoli.

It’s too late to turn back from this bragging sunset,
the one that sets on the acqua pazza of our lust—
or at least that sets over the gulf—
and from whatever it is that isn’t named between us.

Win over my Wild West and so win a piece of me,
desperately, now somewhere lost in the depths
of your southern Italy. When you sling your arm
over mine, it is possession.

The Karma Club
           —At a poetry reading in Boston

Around the room, merry-go-round,
you find Mr. Desmond, the tax collector

writing villanelles, his head a hurricane
of baldness, sucking on the stub of a cigarette.

Next to him, a convention of Barbie dolls in black Tencel pants
followed by scant PhDs scouting their own knot

with a nod to patrons, of course, dull in thick gold
and polyester blends, older than Ganesh.

The shrine of the bar floats in the foggy distance,
beatitude passes by on a bamboo tray

and smiling with salsa between my teeth,
I persevere in my quest—

to search for the face that will reveal my fate in a wine glass,
on a paper napkin, let slip between beer nuts

my being and nothingness, who will pull out
from beneath me a rabbit, a rubber duck,

disclose the future in my fingertips and bra straps,
who from behind my ear will pull out a silver ducat.



Heather Hartley is Paris Editor of Tin House Magazine.   Her poetry manuscript, Knock Knock , was a finalist in the National Poetry Series 2007.  Her poems have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, POOL, Forklift Ohio, Smartish Pace and elsewhere. Her work has appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007. She lives in Paris."

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