Light (an Ars Poetica)


for Basquiat, Wylie Dufresne, Bob Viscusi, Trish Hicks


We all do the same ol’ same ol’ same. 
(Some don’t.) Basquiat
Dubbed it SAMO©. The buildings made
Of bricks the poems about poetry.
Viscusi said the hyphenated can’t stop yapping
About Nonna, gravy, the Old Country.
At St. John’s Rec Center, all the fathers
Are missing poems and all the poems are missing
Fathers. When the sun dies, so do the birds 
And the trees fall fast as a butcher’s knife.
So I don’t eat food anymore, I eat light.
The saying goes: you can tell a good chef
By how he cooks an egg. What is the saying
For poets? When Wylie Dufresne 
Cooks eggs, they come out cubed.       
When Jean-Michel paints eggs, Joe’s red eyes
Are in the skillet. SAMO© left his darkness
At the speed of light… 
But who is The Truth, The Light?  
We don’t discuss these things in our family, 
And my mother 
Thinks I’m perfect. We’ve mastered burying 
The dark stuff deep inside. Mom breathes smoke 
To keep it at bay, I eat light, a stack of pancakes: 
A stack of light—coffee, juice, Gatorade: 
A mug, a glass, a bottle of light—spaghetti 
With meatballs: strings of light with ornaments of light.

More by Michael Cirelli

Birthplace

Deep in the Boogie Down—
	the bassinet of the boom bap
	where the trinity is The Treacherous Three,

English is the third language
	behind Bronx and Puerto Rican,
		and I was nervous

because I only speak Catholic school
	and I'm a Red Sox fan.  

I'm just a student of KRS-1, not a son,

on a train fourteen stops beyond my comfort
	zone hiding behind headphones coughing
		bass, and a backpack full of lyrics:

Notorious B.I.G., Rakim, Perdomo,
Run DMC, Brooks, wanting to be real cool,

wanting to be their "dawg"—
	but feeling like a mailman,
		another Elvis

to the students I will lead 
	through a workshop in a language

		I itch to get my rusted cavities around.