Richard Capozzi

From: "Richard Capozzi"
Subject: Submission for Human Identity in Transformation
Sat, 8 May 1999 18:10:51 -0400

The Anti-Portrait of David Koresh
By Richard Capozzi


Between you and me,
As if I’d whispered
Trying to gain your complicity,
A wall of air is humming
With false common sense.
You can listen, or listen to me,
Both ways it’ll cost you.


Here, in the museum marketplace
I’ve come with my painted face
To negotiate your brand of love.
Alone, pleasant, humbled, I amuse you
By cluttering your countertop with stuff
You cross off your Greatest Values list.

I’m a young aging man who grew up wild.
My wives and I wrote The Book of Sexual Secrets,
But I never could forget
How mother had spat:
"I gave him life, I can kill him."

Sores broke out all over my body, and I ran.
For twenty years, her ghost chased me around the world.
Each time I dreamed of making peace with her,
She attacked me with a knife in nightmare.
I myself had become the horror I wished to escape.

When I had exhausted all my hopes of success,
I returned home to face mother’s disordered hunger.
I turned filial, of all things, and became the laughingstock
Of my brothers, who enjoyed rich brides and witty children.

I had no redeeming talents. I checked.
And as mother grew older
She yelled even louder
That all of my women were whores.

Seaweed grew between her legs.
I removed stockings and shoes from her widowed feet,
Fed her, paid her bills, kept her company. It’s over.

This is what they call fate? Or is it fortune?
I’ve eaten the goddess and shown my strength.
I’m through preparing. Now, can we be friends?


We both know that inequity is the mother of violence.
We’ve been trained in suspicion,
And would argue that we must be chary
Of friendship, as well as other fictions,
Of the Good Deed, of Evil,
Of the forced submission that might be rape.

I have a past. I’m not an easy customer.

In my defense, let me say only
I believe in love.
Still, you’d be perfectly right
To see in me a careerist toy Don Juan
Whose second-class existence
Can be traced to the psychology of rock-n-roll,
And assert, instead, the supremacy of Sisterhood,
Erasing your voice in a chorus of laughing girls.

But the present will never be
Except a handshake across generations
In a world where no one
Is anybody’s true contemporary.


Try to remember…

The lightning bug
At dusk
Winks at
The acrobatic bat.

We’re having fun
And it’s my birthday!


There’s no time, perhaps, no chance
To give you a trinket of my tribal memory,
So all I get is a cold hello, and no thanks.


O honest courtesan,
Understand my bewilderment
When you speak of platonic love,
The word ‘bed’ stuck in your throat like a spear.


I believe in the power of words
To identify the illness,
To clarify the motives,
To get us through the ensuing crisis.

Listen, and you will hear me talking back
From the spot-lit artifact
You’ve put on exhibit.

Let me out!

Let there be commonplace solace for us,
Solace pregnant with dialogue
And the pain of starting over.

And strangers again to each other,
We are husband and lover, man and wife.


New York City, 1996