Joseph Fasano



The Middle of the Way


And now the same blank moon is on the yards.
A man looks out a window to the stars
and asks himself if anyone escapes
the blinding fires of childhood, the endless scars
of all the long-gone ghosts, their hands of flame.
A woman calls a child home at dusk,
forgetting that the name she calls is hers.
Thirty years ago she let it hush
its one wild song, that it might come inside.
This is how it is:  no way to turn,
no promise in the dark.  And yet, by god,
someone hears a calling in the night
and stumbles like a drunkard through the stars
and throws open the barn doors of the heart.






Letter to Lorca Written on His Piano, Granada, 2019


An ocean away, my country is dying.

I have had to touch
these dark keys
of your shadow

to know we feel our griefs
ahead of us
with their cargo

like great ships passing in the darkness
as we wade out, naked, through the shallows.

I have had to ask my own ghosts
where they go.

Come, you say,
come with me

If the heart
is a dark horse on the roadway,
you can follow it

with its black tack
and its saddle,

follow it
in the mad hands of its captors,
dark bread loaded on its shoulders.

You can listen to the last good songs of earth.

Listen: it is late now.
It is later.

I have touched the maddened jasmine
in your garden;
I have smoothed the sheets
you rumpled when they took you;

I have lain down
in your linens
nothing burned.

Go, then.  It is late.
The world is burning.


And when they knelt you
in the new moon
on that lost road,

when your body
was a country that couldn’t love you,

did you look up
at the dark stars in their gardens
and hear the night air, the silences, the wind’s hands?

I had wanted, love,
to leave this
in the wind’s hands,

but I hear you, now,
I hear you
now, I do:

Go, now.  Your life waits
on the roadway.
Walk it back
through the dark sleep of its captors.

Love someone like the last song of the world.




Joseph Fasano is the author of four books of poetry – Fugue for Other Hands (2013), Inheritance (2014), Vincent (2015), and The Crossing (2020) – and the novel The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing (Platypus Press, 2020). His honors include the Cider Press Review Book Award, the RATTLE Poetry Prize, and a nomination for the Poets’ Prize, ‘awarded annually for the best book of verse published by a living American poet two years prior to the award year.’ His work has been widely translated and anthologized, most recently in the forthcoming Across the Waves: Contemporary Poetry from Ireland and the United States (Salmon Poetry, 2020). He serves on the Editorial Board of Alice James Books and teaches at Manhattanville College and Columbia University.

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