Vincent Colistro


You could imagine my elation, my profound pride,
upon receiving such an offer: The Paper Boys cordially inviteth you to partaketh
in a sexual renga. There on my stoop in a Garry oak basket.

I suppose that’s the beginning; the protoplasmic author
burbled around its place in time. My name came to signify the south Island
tabula, upon which many goodly verses were writ, and wherein

the old guard had, since the early 1980’s, baked their rustic
poems about beauty. As silver hairs grow on a lady’s chin, their age somehow
signified transgression. (What wiccan herbs have they burned

to keep alive, I overheard someone whisper once at a reading.)
Love was meted out like Reichsmarks in the Weimar Republic, ever inflating.
The coffee got bitterer and more opaque, as did the tea and beer.

At the age of consent, They gave me my title—Ivan, I was called,
a 68th generation Roman—and many garrulous masks they made me wear
in order to appease the oaks. I rhymed then. I was taught never

to do so again. I remember little else about that time: the timbre
of the oaken gavels, and the geoduck ceviche that Norman Paper served me
upon returning from Central America. I was bed-ridden for days

(which Norman says was good for me—an “experiencia” it’s called in
Nicaragua. Often self-inflicted too!) From there I only got better and better.
My poems no longer began with “So,” and scarcely ended with “Ta-da!”

My name corrupted upwards from legality, into a loftier stratum
where deeds are measured holistically, apart from society proper. Upon it
I flew little haiku kites and clouds of dissipating ghazal. Norm

invited me to all the Paper People orgies (the name changed in 1999, due
to complaints), within which I wore the silver crown. Along the James Bay pier
the Incidentalists wept to no avail into the wrong end of the Pacific,

but I knew exactly what I wanted to say: something
about how the gods could take my human form, if only my yoga mat continued
to unroll, my coffee continued to steep its tannic potential and the pier

discontinued its constant refrain. I wanted to say something
about art that had only been dreamed of, once, by some somnambulant
sailor on his expatriation voyage—though he never dared say it aloud.