Pool at Bouffan- Paul Cezanne

Two Poems

by Gerard Varni

my own flesh burning

First the needle through the flesh
Of a coarse and blighted face,
Piercing the veil of courage
That hangs on feebly
Like a shadow in dying light.
And then the dull creep
Of anesthesia stitching
its numbing shroud.

(all of this,
and the carving
by and by,
because years ago
i dared to drowse
beneath the sear
and brutal sun,
scorching pale skin
a painful crimson hue,
inciting blisters
that sagged like
pricked water balloons.

and that faint dirge
is the rattle
of cells mutating,
yielding to cancer's
incandescent rythm.)

Now the scalpel's sterile flash,
The rasp of razor's edge through
Sparsely whiskered skin.
Excise, cauterize,
Slash and burn;
The mockery of heat--
Catalyst and cure--
Lingers in the room,
Seething in union
With the hiss and sputter of
My own flesh burning.

myth and murder

when once a king was butchered,
what fury sprang from his blood,
maddening ragged angels,
whose vengeance flowed like magma
through the hot blind streets.

and when othello slaughtered
his heedless desdemona,
he wept, saying, I was not
wise but yes I loved her well.
and the twelve agreed, saying,
yes not guilty by reason
of melanin; yes, now walk
home through placid streets.

oh father of the titans
and hundred-handed giants,
what hideous crime awaits?
when time's crimson scythe cleaves from
heaven the moon and sun, what
ghastly apparition will
seep from that wet wound?

graduated from loyola marymount university in los angeles; bachelor of arts degrees in english and philosophy, master's in literature. 35, live in manhattan beach with wife and two young'ns. found that, while writing affords one a fair amount of bliss, it doesn't exactly put tofu on the table; so i work in the highly reputable advertising industry as a creative director.

myth and murder: a compact poem that touches on the themes of crime and violence, especially two notorious events in los angeles' recent past: the rodney king beating and subsequent riots; and the simpson murder trial. the mythic element derives from references to the furies--snaky-haired and hideous women who sprang from the blood of uranus when he was castrated by his son cronos, one of the titans and father of zeus.

flesh burning: a cheery little account of a trip to the dread dermatologist.

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