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The Author Is Dead

Juliano Zaffino - The Author Is Dead - Blog

When Odysseus Comes Home

Juliano Zaffino

‘A dying Odysseus laughed / Knowing the front door / And my face behind it, / Pressed against it, / A fucking dog, no radio.’

‘A dying Odysseus laughed / Knowing the front door / And my face behind it, / Pressed against it, / A fucking dog, no radio.’

I feel like Penelope
When Odysseus comes home
As a corpse
Half-digested;
I knew him once
Before he was siren slaughtered,
Making a meal of himself
For every creature
Crossed his path,
I loved him then and still.

I feel like ancient history
Looking around me
Waiting for inevitabilities
That will only ever
Infuriate me,
A thousand dead husbands
All incapable of change,
Incapable of everything.

I feel insignificant.
The narrative isn’t happening
To me.

I feel the withered hands
Of all the suitors said no to,
Gone to seed or dust
The way Odysseus decayed;
How his ship fell apart.
Imagine him cast upon the waves,
Abreast any element,
Briefly a god,
The image of love.
The image of my love.

I feel the joke
To which I am the punchline
Falling flat in the future;
A dying Odysseus laughed
Knowing the front door
And my face behind it,
Pressed against it,
A fucking dog, no radio.

I feel lost on a long beach
In the Book of Odysseus
Told and retold
An endless “yes”,
Begging you
To say my name once,
Set me free from your story,
One epilogue of many.

I feel abandoned
By the bloat that comes home
Like I am the orphan,
A lacking Telemachus –
My most precious father
Where are you?
I long to have you raise me
Just feign an interest,
Love me like you own me.

I feel a lifetime of loneliness,
Thousands of years of the same thing –
Nothing expecting something –
I’ve been waiting
Forever,
He’s been dead the whole time,
Odysseus, Ulysses,
Cunning King of Ithaca,
Odysseus.

Twelve Shirts, None Of Them Your Size

Juliano Zaffino

‘a crevice in the bed, an absence in the air’

‘a crevice in the bed, an absence in the air’

You come home to a half-full wardrobe,
Dirty laundry on the floor, hamper overflowing
With clothes that aren’t yours.
In the wardrobe hanging there are twelve shirts,
None of them your size, and sweaters
That you’re going to wear some nights
Although they swamp you, gown-like,
Just to feel close to someone, to live in a time
You lost when you lost him.

And there are socks, and underwear, dozens
Of pairs of each, luxurious soft but destined
For the fabric slaughterhouse, a cutting end
To every stitch and thread, a life unspooled.

And you’ll keep your own wardrobe, obviously,
And some day some other other man’s attire
Will hang from the same steel bar, a smaller fit
For a smaller, better fit. Where will those
Twelve shirts hang then? Will you keep them
Under your bed, or in the spare bedroom?
Will you burn every printed pattern just to feel
Lighter? The clothes and every memory will live
And die with you, costume couture.

He hangs up twelve shirts freshly ironed,
None of them your size; he isn’t gone yet
And still has clothes left to live in, idling outfits.
He’s lying in bed watching you undress,
Watching you drape jeans over the headboard
With your phone reflected on your face, and he
Is wondering what would happen to his clothes
Without him there to wear them. You
Are the only one who would notice them,
All those empty shirts left alone, left forlorn,
A crevice in the bed, an absence in the air.
He waits for you to crawl in next to him,
To warm him up, to take his mind off the prospect,
The shirts that hang like hollow men.

Hiding

Juliano Zaffino

‘Elevated by novelty and contact highs, / Clutching the lampshade above my bed, / So made up and undisturbed’

‘Elevated by novelty and contact highs, / Clutching the lampshade above my bed, / So made up and undisturbed’

I’ve been hiding from you
From city to city, sleepless nights compounded
Through hotel corridors and hailing departures,
In a vague and warm delirium
Embracing every vessel in my stead,
Some higher being fully formed, fully functional,
Unrelated to the body that grounds me
Elevated by novelty and contact highs,
Clutching the lampshade above my bed,
So made up and undisturbed

I want to do good in the ways that I can
But you are waiting for me,
In the way that you do, that says “you cannot escape forever”
Even as I’m staring down a bright new future –
You are a silhouette in the distance
Beckoning, threatening,
But I will not loose my grip on the acts I have witnessed
To let you hide the sun at my back again, diminishing;
The world will be only ever golden things
And rushes of brilliance marching, onwards

I’m coming home to you
Tomorrow
I just want to have one more weightless moment
Another chance to rest revolving feet
To be the most myself I’ve ever been
To make you the tiniest landmass ever seen
Before you embrace me as my heavy pet drooling, biting,
When you mark me again,
When I am all yours,
The slate of that elated sky wiped clean.

Three Sonnets

Juliano Zaffino

‘… And I am all but helpless before it, / This compulsion to consume everything, / To enter and annihilate the world...’

‘… And I am all but helpless before it, / This compulsion to consume everything, / To enter and annihilate the world...’

“The sonnet has been dead for centuries”
Is a good title for the first sonnet
In a detached modern sonnet sequence
Written ironically to fuck with you;
The opening number will double up,
An overture for grave disappointment
And a monument erected with hate
To usher in the revenant sequence.
Every buried sonnet now uprising
Against the dictatorial device
Of shifting public tastes and fantasies,
Artful worship of popular living.
This sonnet is a god resurrected,
Giving its life so all sonnets may live.

*

I don’t notice your presence in the crowd
Until some twenty-seven minutes through,
Long after I had laughed myself silly,
Defences and pretences forsaken.
I sit directly in your sights, bird-like,
Accidental quarry stuck squirming slow
Under your devastating maybe-gaze,
My unworthiness ever magnified.
When the show is over I flee my seat
Hoping for the cleanest homeward exit
Stricken by the sight of your back, so close,
The threat of our contact overwhelming.
Yours is a power great and terrible
That reduces me to useless nothing.

*

Images divorced from meaning fly out
Spectral from blue-lit phone screens merciless,
Throwing up necessity in my lap
On endless journeys towards ingestion;
Underground hurtling, head fairly hurting,
Taken in by every advertisement –
Eyes greedy eating every printed word,
Sickened by this sensory overload.
A desire to devour dictates
And I am all but helpless before it,
This compulsion to consume everything,
To enter and annihilate the world.
Give me your eternal conversation,
Let me savour every second with you.

Schism

Juliano Zaffino

‘We want to love but lack the tools / Not even knowing each other truly’

‘We want to love but lack the tools / Not even knowing each other truly’

When were you happy last and
What were you doing then?
The world has disintegrated around you
Fragments and ashen mounds rising
Monuments to mounting misery
Like a thousand long poems canonising
Your supposed boundless suffering
In disassociated verse, poorly written.
Can you recall the last time
You could get through the day?

Last night I watched for the third time
That episode of The Simpsons
Where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse
Bart hollows himself out blindly
The way I do every time I say “yes”
Inviting strangers and lovers
To step over and around me
The willing loving cup crying out
For them to tip me back and fill me up
Just to bestow upon me meaning
Like a paper-based soul transplant
But all the time I am the soulless one
Who feels nothing, in terror of death
As much as life, so void of knowledge,
So divorced from love and humour

Next week we will be here again
Sofa-side together for some sainted hours
There will be some frank discussion
And projected thoughts of mutual grandeur
We want to love but lack the tools
Not even knowing each other truly,
Beyond names or basic functionality
Wouldn’t we be so much happier
If we could just be honest with ourselves
If we could just admit it with finality
This endless horror of our unholy union

We exist solely in a future uncertain

I watch that episode of The Simpsons
Where Sideshow Bob is not the bad guy

You meditate on self-indulgent agonies
The infinite passions of Christ and cruelty
And the nothingness that occupies you