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frank giampietro

2008 LAND LINE INTERVIEW

They’re in Shanghai,

And I’m kowtowing at the polished granite counters

Of my foreclosed kitchen,

Leaning close to the speaker phone,

Near the 800-dollar stainless steel sink,

And the 900-dollar designer faucet,

Sweating.

My son and youngest daughter

Tiptoe in and out to grab drinks from the

Stainless steel fridge and try to 

Ignore the masked desperation in my voice as I

Tell Mr. Su Fang,

The Boss Man,

How much I’d love to fly

18 hours non-stop in coach,

And hotel up in a steam bath city of

24 million.

Yes, I’d love to live in a closet,

If that might be cheaper.

Traveling six months a year?  

Yes, of course, yes, yes and

Yes, I’d love to eat Duck beak and pig testicles.

Yes, I’d love to be an American show pony for your corporate rivals.

Yes, I’m sure I can bring in 6-million in contracts the first month.

And ten thousand compliments on your

English, sir.

I sincerely apologize for not being able to speak

Mandarin, sir.

I wait and listen as his

Female

Canadian development coordinator,

And ex-pat Chinese American HR Director,

Translate.

Six or eight human beings laugh into the phone on their end.

It’s a pleased sort of laughter;

And I wish it wasn’t. 

And when I hang up

I look at my children doing their homework,

Ashamed,

To have been forced down, and lower, and lower still

By the blade of profit traitors;

Kneeling flat now to kiss the feet of our

Conquerors.






SHRAPNEL

Sometimes,

When you’re 63 and ten years into the grief,

You say,

Screw the bills,

The underwater house,

The part-time security guard gig.

And you fly to Maui for the wedding of a young Microsoft Producer who used to swim with you after work in the cold, green, gated community lakes.

And you sleep at the Kahului terminal; outside on a second story breezeway bench;

Drifting in

The stars,

The palms,

The white noise of passenger jets and the warm, aloha wind,

How you rode and rode,

Thinking the rental car shuttle will never stop,

Your wife and children slurping shaved ice

Will stare out the windows forever.

Then eyelid feather touch of sun and

Squint and

Sit up and

Pocket change a tuna sandwich and water bottle for the backpack pillow and

Thumb three rides to the cove;

Where you’ve promised to teach all the rich, beautiful, absurdly young friends of your friend to

Bodysurf.

You have two miles of gold sand shoreline to yourself,

And you walk from the palm forest to an early morning dune lip above the shorebreak end of the beach,

And you sit in the sand, in an old man’s dream fog paradise, and you watch the waves and you think

Nothing.

You know this half of Makena is a widow maker;

Dropping suddenly

Deep,

Just ten yards out, and the waves this morning sneak in, 

Hidden under swells,

That rise up abrupt and close and form collarbone snap ledges that

Drop like overhand rights and explode smash fist into the hard shelf of

Compacted sand; and yet you just sit there and watch as 

A torpedo rolls in and GOES OFF right in your kitchen crotch;

And a shrapnel of fat rain wakes you to the idiocy

Of your front row seat.

And you laugh, explosive joy, at the surprise and delicious cold of the wet shards

Spanking down on your shoulders,

Your face, your feet, salty dripping beard,

Awake,

Awake for the first time in a long time,

And then you really laugh at how stupid it is to be stuck,

And you’re sitting there howling (at grief) like a fool

When all the tattooed, deliciously naked, girl band meets surfer boy techies

Arrive;

And they’ve watched the whole thing, wasted on morning Mimosas and Thai brownies,

And they think you’re a genius and plop down all around, slapping hello hands, and you sit together eating brownies and getting smashed by the wet shrapnel of sunrise.

Later, you give them good guru on sweet ten foot sets,

And gradually you remember that making new friends is one of the best things,

Especially later,

Tequila drunk on a hotel dance floor, tongue wrestling with 

Someone’s redheaded sister, who’s impeccable body is much less than half the age of

Dignity.