Poetry » Dan Tremaglio »



Last night in bed I told my wife I felt without refuge and the word felt like a palm on my forehead.  My grandmother told me on the day she died, Their holy water tastes like perfume, and I believed her.  She used to like to laugh & cuss.  Eleven floors beneath her deathbed the hospital chapel threw a mass every morning & afternoon that lasted nineteen minutes.  My mother became addicted to that pill-sized dose of worship, but my brother, who would enter med school soon, denounced it, calling it McMass.  He didn’t mean it as a joke but I laughed so hard it became one.  King’a Kings, we added.  Maundy’s.  From then on I stayed up late illuminating fish sandwiches & gilding halos around the secret of Victoria.  I learned to stain glass, to blot out the clear with color.  I’m aware of what I didn’t take seriously, of what I left on the plate.  They said, Amen, & I said, A man.  I added up what chuckles cost & paid to Caesar Caesar’s.  I’d love for it all to fit together more tightly but the doors are where the future went.  So we got up, my Mary & I, & walked across the lake in moonlight.

Sometimes the Echo

Sometimes the echo is louder than the source.  The wind picks favorites just like mom.  Look closely and every wall is biased.  There is always a question of attunement.  Something from somewhere goes instantly quiet.  A continent of memory switches dark.  Eyes close.  How could any only thing left not scream?  The echoes ache.  The echoes make me small.  Every iteration steps onto a higher stair.  Each stair closer to some unseen top.  The top is where the light hums.  Where does this ending start?  The echo loudens as makers migrate.  So here we are, old friend.  Halfway between then and later.  Memories compete until they don’t.  That this is impossible should not matter.  All that matters is your face.  And it is always half gone.


The college cafeteria is the set for a TV talk show that airs on the upper channels.  The ceiling is celestially high from which basketball hoops hang at cockeyed angles.  Those who want to talk on the show must attempt to score buckets while seated in inconveniently placed chairs.  Sometimes the chairs are underneath umbrellas.  Other times they are stuck in bathroom stalls behind the nearest backboard.  The walls are yellow or orange or purple.  The tables are long and rectangular and covered in bubble-wrap filled with minnows and humiliation.  You don’t want to talk but Aphrodite in a skirt sets down a calzone as big as a football in front of you from which a filling of deer hearts and blood and hot peppers bubbles forth and steams.  It’s literally boiling on the plate and you are laughing and you are afraid when you shout, But that’s how I burnt the blank blank universe out of my mouth last time!  So you sit and wait for coolness to come.