4 Poems [by Lea Graham]

Namecouth, (adj.) known by name; well-known, famous; notorious (rare).

Let’s say Maurice the Pants Man or
Rizutti’s Good Night Café what used
to be Old Billy’s Lounge now charred

on Millbury Street down from what was
once Stony O’Brien’s where your Gram
used to sit with her boyfriends into

her 60s, drinking gin & giving
you & your brother & sister
quarters for the jukebox, now called

Nick’s (cuz Vincent & Nicole are so
in love, says Captain Bob). Let’s say
the Greyhound that used to be

Rafferty’s & before that a name
I can’t pronounce in Gaelic & where
they say the Baker was blown & shat

that girl & I wonder which corner
or john & how much stench that place,
that dark place where we all go to watch

the World Cup with Richie Scales,
Allie Bombz, Bells & Whistles—
Everyone, you tell me, has another

name or several, better known than
their own: Giant Jesus & Baby
Jesus, Husky Jay & Bakery Joe,

Trojan Mick & Pacman Pat, Lord Pork,
Fat Ron, Polish Stosh & the Warrior.
Even in Texas, Michael mentions

“the Vernon” to Sue, his liquor
store gal from the Woo, who gives him
the thousand mile stare. She says,

Bucket o’ Blood & We were told
to look away, cross ourselves
& the street when passing that place.

“Because We Can’t Paint Flowers & Reclining Nudes & People Playing the Cello Anymore”

Thanks, Barnett Newman. As if we ever could here in America. The Island
once called “Scalpintown.” Kelley Square’s “Sacrifice Division.” Dimey beers
or hot baths for a nickel. The Nines voted “best crack.” A grafittied whale breaches

off the Vernon’s east wall, witness to the goings. White City’s alligators shot
basking on Tattasit. The Zip destroyed in fire. The Barrel auctioned to Cork.
There’s Providence to the south. Rumors of tunnels. Bathsheba Spooner hung

with child, buried under a rock near the road to Green Hill’s tool shed.
Kunitz’s father stilled on a bench across from the Greek church, carbolic acid in
Hand among the elms of Elm Park. The ghost of my own little dog still barking.

Poetics of the Scratched Patron

For Garin Cycholl

If Matthew O’Leary call 911!
A universe withdrawn to corners,
miniaturizing or what bears the mark

of infinity. Lana Do-Ya-Wanna,
always in our daydreams, the house protects
the dreamer. For dealing in the john, Richie,

this cosmos of the half-open. How we
take root, day after day, in a corner
of the world, Carol No-Teeth, before out-

spread fields & daring Lisa B. “The Leach”
to daring associations. Round cries,
Bum Tommy, of round being. Alive,

contradictions accumulate. Bobbie
Serve- At-Your- Own-Risk’s intimacy or
imagined as a vertical being

with increased intensity. Doyle—the fat
one, subject to dispersions. The mind loses,
Big-Jugs-Jeanie, its geometric

homeland. None other, CC & Hang, of
a wine deep sea. Larry & Steve the-Human-
Ferris-Wheel imagining degrees in

unity or Nelly “the Canolli”
fighting Jonny Mumbles under the sky’s
cupola, this curdled quiet trembles

before Al’s buddy, Damien, sensing
a square’s stability or what depth these
echoes, Giant Tony, seems memory’s

refuge. The simpler the image, Georgie
“for swearing at bartenders,” the vaster
this dream. Recalls songs, charms, pure threshold


Song of Bakery Joe

I drive through other people’s dreams.
Lilac & rudbeckia in rinsed-out brandy

bottles for the ladies when I can, rye,
pumpernickel, you-name-it until noon

at the Vernon leaving day-olds for regulars
to do something nice ya know cuz it never hurt

nobody where I go to write poems to Our Lady
of the Dollar Draft, Venus of the Blackstone,

her sweet-smiling Keno screens bring luck,
rest before song—sweet   

 sha-da-da-da   dream sha-da-da-da


Lea Graham is the author of the forthcoming chapbook, This End of the World: Notes to Robert Kroetsch (Apt. 9 Press, 2016), the poetry book, Hough & Helix & Where & Here & You, You, You (No Tell Books, 2011) and the chapbook, Calendar Girls (above /ground press, 2006). Her poems, translations and reviews have been published in Notre Dame Review, Southern Humanities Review and Fifth Wednesday. She is a contributing editor for Atticus Review’s feature, “Boo’s Hollow,” which showcases poets’ writing on place.  She is an Associate Professor of English at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

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