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Seven Sonnets from Dialoghi d'amore

The grass never gets lonesome, the Cossack’s buried in the bone.                              
Monorhymed and clean, I’m the balm between your toes. There on the double
the Mercurochrome on your fingertip, when I could make good.
Was Leo the Hebrew, Max the Jew, the Ladino, Don Isaac, and studying you.
We recognize our ears in each other. We are related

to the earliest times, and to the latest. I place a premium on hidden places
in the middle. I pluck your note from the breeze, shove it
back into the horn. The phone behind the flower does not ring, this is how I see
diminishing things. Mine is a chest full of pearls
and oaths. I honed you from the weather, move you in service

to the order, walk you around. My presence less a quality of skin
than engine. Medicine for the whirr. Come collect your image, it’s been
unspoken for. My other beach, we have
no business here. What, with meaning washed away like coral in air.



No business here? What, with meaning washed away like coral in air,
the park cannot heal the city? Not night enough to see
my daughter, sitting in the grass.
I want to know every hundred little things she knows.
The wind pulls a steady slew of winter bats through

the city, chthonic as a chalkboard. Nights she ushers them to roost,
the park cannot heal the city. Sitting in the grass she knows
she is not mine, not night enough to see.
She wants to know if I am a stranger, if I brought her here.
The featherless electorate appointed her the mayor

of our diffusion. She whittles out an audience from the crowd,
lends her constituents more winterized vehicles, night-blooming echo beacons,
warm blue agave. The weight of expectation takes
a toll on her regime. She flits awake an animal she has never seen.



Atoll on her regime. She flits awake. An animal she has never seen
cropped up in her lagoon. The meanest brute she ever met,
all arms, and stomach like a fountain. Its face, more deleted than a puppeteer.
If water could coach itself away from water, she would have
taken the animal further into her. In waves she figured

I am dryer than I was once, with terrible things to remember.
A doctor surrenders her health to another
and the vacant arena, lunglike, constricts.
As halves of the same material grow at different speeds
I can afford to tell you what I see, it’s what I feel that calcifies around me

like a barrier of islets. I erupted, I remember, into my reflection.
The water and the ring, irreversible things.
It’s the mission of the chain. Keep the fire in the hole.
Don’t let it happen to you, don’t let it happen to anybody else.



Don’t let it happen to you. Don’t let it happen to anybody, else
the fable wavers on the ridge. It shifts
with the athleticism of paint, to cover so much ground so
immediately, and be still. In the amphitheater
in the middle of a Yes you begin to forget what’s what and it

happens. Even the most powerful Iberian librarians get
X-ed out of it. Full-chested galaxies,
Nights of Broken Glass, get polished away by the epilogue sun of it.
Sight unseen, I get homesick for the mildest
stun of it. Peels the name off my

back like a sloppy patina. The solid part remains, and the clarified keeps through.
It’s the I I used to bargain with,
if you’re into all that. There’s a cabaret
this morning at the base of the mountain (you go on in five).



This morning at the base of the mountain, you go on in. Five
arrows of your body reach into. The muscle inside reknits itself, no bother
its station. With fear for my thrill I fled
west for the middle
and behave now and am averse to new

zoonotic pathogens, like a bat maneuvering in the corn.
Heebie-Jeebie in the goldenrod playing his cards
collects, bewares blonde ghosts
in the community, combing, macabrely, his beloved village dance troupe
for a treat. In your hands my stomach

swivels like an oblast to the oil lamp. Ill-defined compressions
in a group, us two. Like a habitat moving
with a fixed light
assembling. In our horror, our shimmering commonplace.



Assembling in our horror, our shimmering common place,
scores of bird-eating birds—avivores—marry one another, make up the bulk of
each other’s diets. Self-
indulgence, now mutual
benefit? Slapdash

argument, in spades, I say. These birds, they grip their assignment by the tongue
and hammer throw. Unified Team won the Bronze in it
and Silver, the Gold at the ’92 Olympics. In summer, in Barcelona
with lousy equipment, I pored over
pearls, performed my variety

show for the palace. What Ferdinand hands me
I make go poof. He made me his Exchequer, right then and there.
We would like very much then
to stay here, in Spain. As even the birds dine on birds, and remain



birds, vital furniture for our eyes. The floor refoliates
a dozenfold. Months
these days waltz
within us. Echoes of fundamental shapes. Great-

grandfather, Harry Houdini’s accountant.
Isaac, our cousin the Don, muscled his way into King’s spitting distance.
All told, say
the performance outlived the performer?

Holy Toledo,
the mind cannot be
pierced and repeats itself. Tough enough to chew. I dig my body closer
to you

Gilad Jaffe’s recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bennington Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, [PANK], The Iowa Review, and TriQuarterly, among others. He is currently an Iowa Arts Fellow and MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.