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Spirit Vessels

Dennis Formento

I write myself out and start all over again.  As a kid, I started writing standard forms: sonnets, blues, ballads and rock & roll stanzas—eventually converting to free verse after reading Whitman & Ginsberg.  Later I added surrealist composition, tight objectivist line breaks, projectivist inclusion of history dream and myth to my palette —and incorporating jazz into my poetry both in writing and performance. Paid some dues with 9 months of Thursday night gigs at the Blue Nile with my band, the Frank Zappatistas, free jazz improvisation (special thanks to flutist Janna Saslaw who told me to just relax and have fun.) Reading the full Shakespeare canon taught me something about really creating a presence through poetry. The best compliment I have gotten in a long time came from a spoken word artist who told me, “Your poems are perfect for your voice.”  Thanks, man, I’ve been doing it for a long time.  9/26/2017

From the book:

il Giardino Abbandonato

Chista è 'na storia
d'un piscispàda:..
storia d'amuri…

a song of Modugno’s has haunted me

the song of the swordfish whose lover has been netted

the song of the émigré leaving his arid town

abandoned by water

the withered breast of his mother nursing her last child

while her first one leaves for America,

and of the moon just risen through the dried olive trees

the submerged oboe, his dead guitar

the mirror that speaks nobody’s name

water, water, Narcissus’s face in its mirror

the song of the black cat who twisted between

the suicide’s shoes

and the song of the dirt-farm fisherman

who was a slave to the sea

Well, the sea will keep you honest, and the eleven men

who burned and drowned in the sea of last summer

of the last summer in Hades, were bound by the sea

by the disease that stops my tongue.  Water, water,

our need for it, our love of it

is all the element in which we drown

and the fact that one day we will return to it

and be absorbed into it

is both our tragedy and our resurrection.

War is not the answer, water is.

The song of Modugno

of the man who begged Christ for a remedy to save him

from his wicked padrone who beat him with his teeth

worse than a dog’s

the song of E Zezi, of the eleven men and women

who burned in a fireworks plant

because that was the work that had been given them to do

and that was the work of their fathers,

the work they surrendered to

or took pride in, what’s the use, Christ on his cross

should be so happy with his nails,A

the song of Modugno’s about the swordfish

plucked from the sea

whose last wish was to die with its lover.

Born 1954, educated in Catholic schools through grade 12 & studied judo to learn how to toss bullies. B.A., University of New Orleans, studied Poetics at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) and M.A., University of Colorado, Boulder. Returned to New Orleans in 1989 to dig in, edited Mesechabe: The Journal of Surregionalism, founded Surregional Press & formed The Frank Zappatistas free-jazz/free-verse band. Now living in Slidell, LA, in the watershed of the West Pearl River.

Spirit Vessels is a 78 page hand-stitched paper book with spine -  $16.00.

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Spirit Vessels


Click here to see Dennis’ FootHills book Looking for an Out Place.

Spirit Vessels