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My Afterlife

John Martone

Tufo
2018
Portions of the collection previously appeared
online in Peter Yovu’s vita brevis.

My Afterlife
Copyright © 2018 John Martone
Tufo
isbn 978-1-387-96253-2
My Afterlife
Laudato si’, mi’ Signore,
per sora nostra Morte corporale,
da la quale nullu homo vivente po’ skampare:
guai a quelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;
beati quelli ke trovarà ne le Tue santissime voluntati,
ka la morte secunda no ‘l farrà male.

— Francis of Assisi
a kitchen garden my afterlife

~5~
the windowscreen too this ivy

~6~
a pool of sun
the cucumber vine
encircles his garden

~7~
sometimes see you —
grotto-shape

garden toad

~8~
his basil plants
have no idea —

they’re no symbol

~9~
all this
parsley

to snip
(a gift)

~ 10 ~
oregano spires foretell long days

~ 11 ~
dew on a spike
of basil flowers —
my lighthouse!

~ 12 ~
wordlessly —
cilantro into
coriander

~ 13 ~
Bruno Carnecciola

his three children


playing were suddenly
praying

~ 14 ~
garden stakes driven-in
all those angles
straight up!

~ 15 ~
how much unsung
work to a garden

all those cells


dividing

~ 16 ~
ars poetica

the leap from


basil to breeze
a space to dwell in

~ 17 ~
just look in this bucket
of last week’s rain —
no one!

~ 18 ~
through the shed’s
dirty window
a thumbprint of sun

~ 19 ~
hydrangeas
and a fern’s

hemishpere —
take me home!

~ 20 ~
lime-washed beehives
and stone houses

a village
in the orchards

~ 21 ~
morning sun
falling at

that angle —
such silence

when mom comes


to visit

~ 22 ~
bp nichol

my cucumber vines —
Apollinaire’s rain climbs
back to the sun

~ 23 ~
sun in the dews
on my lace-leaf

just for a second


that cosmic face

~ 24 ~
a tendril
inquires — I just
stand here

~ 25 ~
count pistils and stamens
making sure
you’re all there

~ 26 ~
when I stood on
the vertiginous cliff —
blue morning glories

~ 27 ~
our road re-paved
the morning glories
climb higher

~ 28 ~
word
less
ly

re
cep
tive

hold
ing
up

his
hands
(what

dusk
or
dawn?)

an
cient
figurine

epitome

~ 29 ~
Mine’s immaterial —
every garden’s
a form of light

~ 30 ~
ex voto

lettuces
dressed in dew
how medieval!

~ 31 ~
wine-red in sun
my lace-leaf maple
full of caves

~ 32 ~
gardening —
you can tell
from her nails

~ 33 ~
tomato caterpillar —
60 years ago
you were monstrous

~ 34 ~
I cage my
tomatoes

and return
to this desk

~ 35 ~
rosary beads
the color
of water

~ 36 ~
peonies done
a human being
sweeps up

~ 37 ~
the wine bottle’s green
the bread’s hard crust
no cloth on the table

~ 38 ~
fingers
pressed on the eyelids —
hydrangeas!

~ 39 ~
the yard
with its swing

a roof ’s
rise and fall

~ 40 ~
Summer lake

they bring out rowboats


and life jackets

the beach still empty


you want to be ready

~ 41 ~
luminous to be
luminous when
the time comes

~ 42 ~
the soul’s how light paper
ascent you are wasp nest

~ 43 ~
gladioli
to his navel
Tony in old age

~ 44 ~
breathing freely —
his face and hands

greasy from under


the vegetable truck

~ 45 ~
the summer yard —
if I could just remember
green mansions

~ 46 ~
the breeze
in just two leaves —
hummingbird

~ 47 ~
tomato vines
over my head
where else would I go?

~ 48 ~
bitten all-over now in a sun-shower

~ 49 ~
blue-stripes on white
morning glories and boxers —
the old man forgets to dress

~ 50 ~
counting pistils
and stamens make sure
you’re all there

~ 51 ~
when I stood on
the vertiginous cliff
blue morning glories

~ 52 ~
the morning glories
and bindweed intertwine —
remember

~ 53 ~
morning countless
glories secrets

making in a
capsules garden

~ 54 ~
picking figs this morning I am his son

~ 55 ~
just one summer —
earth nearly recovers
the marble path

~ 56 ~
tomatoes in one hand
weeds in the other
he stands up

~ 57 ~
strangled by a bony growth in the throat he was my father

~ 58 ~
ex voto

spring days —
mother —

scraps of paper
left on a desk

~ 59 ~
a country priest
Fr. Ronald Hilt

the flowering
vegetable garden
an iconostasis

~ 60 ~
the icon’s
gold background — the light
outside earth’s shadow

~ 61 ~
neutrinos and cosmic
rays through you
reading John of the Cross

~ 62 ~
my small lettuces
all the shapes
of a multivers

~ 63 ~
by-pass pruner
cape-cod weeder and pocket knife
I don’t pack a lunch

~ 64 ~
lugging buckets
of weeds into nightfall
more nightfall

~ 65 ~
gold twilight falls
on the honeysuckle fence —
someone’s there

~ 66 ~
I take off my glasses to enter the invisible world

~ 67 ~
the quickest floater’s a hummingbird

~ 68 ~
a chipmunk
under the lace-leaf —
I’ve left my body behind

~ 69 ~
faux-leather covers —
nature guides
his breviary

~ 70 ~
all thumbs
planting more
radishes

~ 71 ~
cancer?
the stained-glass

light falls on
empty pews

~ 72 ~
again today

again today
a face in
those branches

o my poor
little brain

~ 73 ~
always on foreign soil
till I remove
my glasses

~ 74 ~
sunflowers now —
one by one

or several at a time
till I’m blind

~ 75 ~
that window
hidden in the leaves
is it open?

~ 76 ~
strong coffee
after florid dreams

those lively
presences

~ 77 ~
old men
playing cards

in a dream —
you never learned

~ 78 ~
saints of the day
each on a card

my 1950’s
neighborhood

~ 79 ~
my second
childhood
already —

full of
gentle ash

then empty
no one there —

picture book
of that room

in Pompeii

~ 80 ~
a room
in detail

and window’s
view

before
you die

~ 81 ~
the ecstasy of summer vines

reaching me

~ 82 ~
summertime
song from

the kitchen
radio

~ 83 ~
peeling tomatoes
peeling figs

the women’s hands


in shadow

~ 84 ~
rough wood table
unfinished
eternal

~ 85 ~
il vangelo
and his neatly folded
handkerchief

~ 86 ~
statues
on the dresser

next to
a window

no mirror

~ 87 ~
my late
father’s
briefcase
by the wall

to remember
when he’d
come home

~ 88 ~
the garden
already

looks like you’ve


gone away

~ 89 ~
empty glass
by his bed

book of saints
dream journal

~ 90 ~
Leopardi in Naples

the ash
that takes
your breath
away

food for
the olives

you don’t
know when

~ 91 ~
side by side
shoes under

empty bed
waiting

~ 92 ~
trying to
imagine

your last
moment

morning
glories

~ 93 ~
for MCM

The reason I’m drawn to the Fatima children, to


Bernadette and to Garabandal (Oh, Joey Lomangi-
no!) is that my own childhood was a long, luminous
no!
visitation, in which that Lady did not even need to
appear.

~ 94 ~
happened
so long
ago

still this
summer
morning

it’s all
other
worldly

brightness
around

the quiet
cape-cod

~ 95 ~
(seems important
to remember)
boxlike

kitchen
the plates we
ate from

~ 96 ~
Rochelle Famiglietti

somewhere on earth
the wine-red dress
she made herself

~ 97 ~
Rochelle Famiglietti (ii)

I lose
myself

in this
lace her

village
again

~ 98 ~
cameo earrings
a century after
the needle and cork

~ 99 ~
they’d buy grapes
to make their wine

I only remember
dark purple

~ 100 ~
your bobbing flight
goldfinch ends with
a sunflower’s nodding

~ 101 ~
purple finch —
does the sunflower know?
do you?

~ 102 ~
cilantro flowers
like crazy as well
at the end

~ 103 ~
today’s plan —

plant fall
turnips

work on
your book

~ 104 ~
dragonflies
above the pond
daylily anthers

~ 105 ~
perfect right angles —
dragonflies
above the corn

~ 106 ~
sunflower leaves —
the shoulders of
mom’s postwar jacket

~ 107 ~
chicory
and queen anne’s lace —
sky come to earth

~ 108 ~
my woven ash
bushel basket’s
emptiness

(with wire handles)

~ 109 ~
spires of
basil
florets

out of
the world

with you
in mind

~ 110 ~
flowering done
basil stems
turn wooden

~ 111 ~
picking basil
till I bring
the smell with me

I become
another spire

~ 112 ~
basil leaves
placed one on
another

same way
inch thick

to ship — part
of the book

~ 113 ~
but basil’s
an annual

~ 114 ~
sweat bees parsley
harmless flowers

~ 115 ~
one bee
out there

so loud
it fills

my small
white room

~ 116 ~
I looked at
the deathbed

where had
she gone?

~ 117 ~
broken stems
all you find —
every grape eaten

~ 118 ~
messagero

Most of his life a confused wandering, worse than


any prodigal son, roots not taking anywhere, finally
winding up in a field imagining the migrant worker in
old age, never having mastered masonry, woodwork,
anything more than day-work, in a room bare as Eric
Hoffer’s, it came to him at last, he’d been carrying a
message that needed all this to ripen.toAnd
ripen.
nowAnd
the
secret is where he came from.

~ 119 ~
empty
garden swing
swinging at dawn

you don’t have


to see her

~ 120 ~