Orts & Slarts

V. Penelope Pelizzon

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,
                 avid hagiographers
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
                 caterpillaring back,
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.