Paul Violi



What’ ll it be?

Roast beef on rye, with tomato and mayo.

Whaddaya want on it?

A swipe of mayo.
Pepper but no salt.

You got it. Roast beef on rye.
You want lettuce on that?

No. Just tomato and mayo.

Tomato and mayo. You got it.
… Salt and pepper?

No salt, just a little pepper.

You got it. No salt.
You want tomato.

Yes. Tomato. No lettuce.

No lettuce. You got it.
… No salt, right?

Right. No salt.

You got it. Pickle?

No, no pickle. Just tomato and mayo.
And pepper.

Extenuating Circumstances

I don’ t know how fast I was going
but, even so, that’ s still
an intriguing question, officer,
and deserves a thoughtful response.
With the radio unfurling
Beethoven’ s Ode to Joy, you might
consider anything under 80 sacrilege.
Particularly on a parkway as lovely
as the one you’ re fortunate enough
to patrol — and patrol so diligently.
A loveliness that, if observed
at an appropriate rate of speed,
affords the kind of pleasure
which is in itself a reminder
of how civilization depends

On an Acura Integra

Please think of this as not merely a piece
Of writing that anyone would fully
Appreciate, but as plain and simple
Words that attempt to arouse whatever
Appetencies you, especially, depend
Upon language to fulfill; that drench you
In several levels of meaning at once,
Rendering my presence superfluous.
In other words, welcome this as a poem,
Not merely a missive I’ ve slowly composed
And tucked under your windshield wiper
So that these onlookers who saw me bash
In your fender will think I’ m jotting down


Whereas the porch screen sags from
the weight of flowers (impatiens) that grew
against it, then piles of wet leaves,
then drifted snow; and

Whereas, now rolled like absence in its
drooping length, a dim gold wave,
sundown’ s last, cast across a sea of clouds
and the floating year, almost reaches
the legs of the low-slung chair; and

Whereas between bent trees flies
and bees twirl above apples
and peaches fallen on blue gravel; and