Asparagus Feast

Asparagus Feast

S.P. Zitner
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 140
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  • Book Info
    Asparagus Feast
    Book Description:

    Once she woke me in the streaky dark to savour one of her delights - "larks against bells," she called it. We carried our coffees down to the minty garden and waited ankle-deep in dew. Across the shallow valley, the early traffic crept in glimmers through the groundmist. At dawn the cannonade of bells from the Certosa - as she had promised - did not drown out small songs. --from Loquacious Philomel

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8546-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ONE
    (pp. 1-24)

    No spring here, but a repertoire of climates.

    The crocus tunnels into exile;

    days from each season pelt, thaw, burn and tweak

    designer weathervanes and noses

    until May - permissive and conditional.

    Charles Street, July.

    A butter-yellow shimmers down

    through the leafy openwork of Freeman maples

    in which some phrases we forgot

    have settled, singing.

    Rags of autumnal mist, the haze of traffic,

    the stale of vent and grating,

    the bronchial wheeze of sleepers,

    restless, bedded down in headlines:

    sour exhalations of affluence.

    Gauleiter of winter, black-booted Cold

    goose-steps along Bloor Street. His neon ribbons

    glitter back from fashionable...

  4. TWO
    (pp. 25-42)

    Unsaturated red, eye-blue, rain-gray –

    embroidered arrows, orbs and squares –

    the necktie I put on recalls

    the Constructivists we admired.

    Indulging my stoop-shouldered vanity,

    one of you, most likely both together,

    bought it at Arfango’s a dozen years ago,

    a token from our heart-city.

    Richard is dead five years now,

    Agnes longer, and unfamiliar mourner’s eyes

    in a familiar face stare from the mirror,

    seeing the Gordian knot still taut.

    Gasping at the January wind, I turn away

    from the sleet and slobber of University Avenue

    into the narrow lobby of Mount Sinai –

    its humid warmth close with morning bustle,


  5. THREE
    (pp. 43-56)

    Today at the Farmers’ Market not the expected

    Inca musicians piping for small change

    but three good Christian men in overalls

    playing old-time Country on old gui-tars

    and a pawnshop fiddle, raising a jaunty ruckus

    that brought back Carolina in a rush:

    the worn-down steps of the Durham County courthouse

    where the Reverend J.C. Bunn preached Life Eternal

    as he handled two of God’s own rattlesnakes

    till he was cuffed by the World’s Most Careful Cops;

    and you and Slivia and me and D,

    and nights with medico-literary pals

    on Med Lab alcohol and dialectic,

    arguing that every pain had...

  6. FOUR
    (pp. 57-64)

    He and his friend Hans-Peter, both nineteen, were idling on the Kudamm, following two pleasant pairs of ankles which had stopped at a milliner’s window to let the lads catch up gracefully, when an uncle - not much older than himself - appeared at his elbow, and without so much as - Sorry, you’re needed at home - hurried him off.

    A few steps, and his uncle whispered, “You have one hour to pack.” And so, two days before Kristallnacht, the baby of the family left Berlin and was off to America to become the sole survivor. He volunteered for...

  7. FIVE
    (pp. 65-82)

    “Why can’t we recall the plot

    ofThe Way of the World,

    yet staged, the play is lucid?

    You may re-phrase the question.

    Do you know the date?”

    In town for my doctoral orals,

    and sleepless with such conundrums,

    I put on robe and slippers

    and, not to wake my host and hostess,

    friends of friends, I tip-toed

    down their faux-Tudor stairway

    in search of coffee. Six A.M.

    was blinding in the kitchen,

    my hostess already up.

    NeitherThe New York Timesshe held,

    nor the table-top of rippled glass

    concealed her nakedness.

    “Coffee?” she asked; a goddess

    does not...

  8. six
    (pp. 83-92)

    These centaurs and these lapiths are one stone, stone and the shadow of stone, worked with tools fine as pins, together with that state goblet which has the fallen bridesmaid’s mouth still near it where it burst when a centaur’s hoof skidded for a purchase over the bloody dishes as she turned sharply to protect her breast after the uprooting of his tail, which unsprang two tugging lapiths, their hands full of the twine-y hair, into the slice-shaped breakage of some wine-jars; above which a centaur still browses the lapith bride while another rears to mount her; for which provocation...

  9. SEVEN
    (pp. 93-108)

    Don’t tempt me with sleep and “Es muss sein,”Old Horror.

    Though mornings bring dry crusts and midnights dregs,

    I’ll have my glut of days. No clever tricks, please –

    clutching my arm to feel the hanging flesh,

    whispering gibberish to hint my hearing’s poor,

    wagging beneath my nose a small-printGenesis

    to prove my eyes part-plastic, and the right

    mirrors of a soul you have no use for.

    Worse and still worsening, I’m worth the reaping

    despite the bronchial wheeze, the raw inch of stoma

    and the little graves beneath the eyes.

    No need to cheapen the carcass, to jew...

  10. EIGHT
    (pp. 109-128)

    If you were here again and nothing more

    between us but a cafe table and twoblancs

    you in that pale blue dress,

    Perdita incognita among the idlers –

    I’d pour out all I've hoarded; you would, too:

    questions, second-and-after-thoughts, and guesses.

    Nothing would be unlistened to, unspoken.

    I want to hear your ideas on Bruegel'sIcarus.

    We never finished with that 17th-century cleric

    who thought of God as a kind of Jackson Pollock

    dribbling stars. Or with porism. Or with Tillich.

    Words about words, feelings about and in them,

    modest but shaping all, like punctuation.

    Under the floorboards of a...

    (pp. 129-129)