Nothing’s less romantic than a dish of lentils
amped up with ramps and garlic
turning you into a wind instrument
sprawled across the couch in torment. Nothing’s
more humorous than an aunt
embarrassed, her innards muttering crass
blasphemies in some guttural proto-Nordic
dialect. Well, Gassy Lassie,
none will celebrate your dignity’s lapse
happily as this trio of nephews,
who praise the body’s stinks and stews, its anarchy
deflating false modesty. They mythologize
their seismic eructations
and erections, regale you with sagas
of J.’s puss-blister and how D.’s whacked head
bled and when W. yacked
asparagus in the tub. It’s sublime, really,
what fumes to the surface when expert fartisans
descend to hilarity.
You’d have an awkward time with politer
friends who lacked these childrens’ intimacy
with the rebellious corpus.
Unable much of the fall to hug their father
whose kisses the chemo made radioactive,
their hero is not a brute
Hercules dragging his lion-pelt, but
the gaunt man whose eyebrows have just begun
who spoons pancake batter onto the griddle to birth
their favorite animals. Eggless batter, since
their systems aggressively
reject allergens. (What poison came home
in sippy cup lids or pacifiers?
With milk in plastic cartons?
Toxins tasteless in the butter-sweet colostrum
warm from the nipple of a mama bear who’s breathed
what breezes off the golf course
airport highway slaughterhouse mephitic
sugar refining plant?) An egg mishap,
unlike a fuck-up with nuts,
might not kill anyone but surely would induce
great bouts of yacking! in the tub! And flatulence,
a word they can’t stop wafting
in laughter as mom rebukes yet again,
yanking the pouch from a hand old enough
to know better—no cursing
please; these aren’t toys; your EpiPen is not a gun.
V. Penelope Pelizzon’s second poetry collection, Whose Flesh Is Flame, Whose Bone Is Time, was published in 2014 (Waywiser Press). Her first book, Nostos(Ohio University Press, 2000), won the Hollis Summers Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. Pelizzon’s awards include a 2019 Hawthornden Fellowship, an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, and the Center for Book Arts chapbook award for her collection Human Field. New poems appear or are forthcoming this year in The Gettysburg Review, The New England Review, Ecotone, and The Harvard Review.