Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

He's really beautiful. When he's standing in the trees like that and thinks nobody sees him. He's like a stag. Which sounds silly but he is. The way the light shines on him. The way it bounces off his hair like spray from the sprinkler. And he doesn't know it right then. Because he's looking somewhere else. Maybe up at a bird. I was standing a few feet away and turned back because I heard him whistling when he thought I wasn't listening. He wasn't thinking of me. He was looking at a bird who was sitting in the tree and looking back at him. If his shirt was off he'd have been dappled golden in the sun coming through the leaves. He didn't notice me watching him without his shirt on. He was standing in the forest and the sun was coming through the trees and covering him so he glowed. I knew he'd be warm if I walked up and touched him. And probably not mad. He's like something in a movie or like a book we'd read in summer by the pool. He didn't see me looking because he was so peaceful staring at the bird.

More by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

A Word From the Fat Lady

It isn't how we look up close
so much as in dreams.

Our giant is not so tall,
our lizard boy merely flaunts

crusty skin- not his fault 
they keep him in a crate

and bathe him maybe once a week.
When folks scream or clutch their hair

and poke at us and glare and speak
of how we slithered up from Hell,

it is themselves they see:
the preacher with the farmer's girls

(his bulging eyes, their chicken legs)
or the mother lurching towards the sink,

a baby quivering in her gnarled 
hands. Horror is the company

you keep when shades are drawn.
Evil does not reside in cages.

Graves We Filled Before the Fire

Some lose children in lonelier ways:
tetanus, hard falls, stubborn fevers

that soak the bedclothes five nights running.
Our two boys went out to skate, broke

through the ice like battleships, came back
to us in canvas bags: curled

fossils held fast in ancient stone,
four hands reaching. Then two

sad beds wide enough for planting
wheat or summer-squash but filled

with boys, a barren crop. Our lives
stripped clean as oxen bones.

Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]

It's ridiculous what fame
can buy you. Not the beast
but the tiny, frightened
man who brings him
in a cage from Alhambra,
who stands in the doorway
as the three girls finish,
get off the bed and walk down 
to the pool, giggling as they pass.
The Bandleader borrowed
a tiger because we saw it 
in a reel the studio sent over,
some movie about a prince
that played against the wall
of the upstairs bedroom. 
Sometimes a girl would jump 
into the pool and the waves  
shimmered up. In the movie
the prince brings the tiger
to the castle and it rules
alongside him, "That's not 
believable," the Bandleader  
said and then, "Don't stop." 
And then, "Ah. Right there."
The prince would place his hand 
on the tiger's head and grab 
his hair in his fist and move 
it around. I liked to watch 
him start to want things, a wetness
forming in his mind. There were 
three girls squealing in the pool
and the waves  came up to us 
as ripples of light that I passed 
my fingers through, "You're blue 
with gold stripes," the Bandleader 
said, looking up at me 
but imagining the tiger beside him 
already, before he even  
reached for the phone.