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f2587ffe03646449764f4a747282fd88_400x400What kind of a last name is “Ripatrazone”?

My family’s actual last name is “Ripatransone,” like the town in the Marche region of Italy. The “z” was mistakenly substituted for the “ns” when they reached America. Our lives are filled with those mistakes and misunderstandings. Sometimes it’s best to simply roll with them.

When I visited my Scottish uncle in De Aar, he sat
on the back porch of his cottage with a Winchester,
polished like auburn sex, loaded. When he shook
my hand his finger pressed into my wrist and the vein
tingled while we burned through brush in the silver
Geländewagen, his jokes about taking women in the back
of Woolworths, clearance racks shaking like branches in wind.

I woke up and kissed you and left the room. I woke up and you were lying in bed and I leaned over and kissed you before I left the room. Before waking up I was asleep and before I was asleep I was awake and might have been kissing you but after I was asleep I was definitely awake and definitely kissed you and left the room.

George Korolog Photo

Isn’t it hard to pen and ask yourself questions that could possibly cause you look like a pompous ass?

Yes, very hard. It is incredibly easy to be seen either way, and this only adds another layer of complexity to the equation. Freud would have a field day with this, wouldn’t he?

A damp stench of wildflowers. The
memory of vacant highways fixed in

her bones, a recurring memory oozing
tragic lines, cracking the marrow with

guttural airs not meant for human ears,
lies driven too deep, too hard, too often,

I find naked Jesus
in the King Cake a zombie brought
from Della Calce Street

so I have
renewed my luck
I drain a shot of absinthe

I sit dumbfounded as your
yellowed body asserts itself
into my cringing awareness.
Only yesterday you were
an old soul peering through
young eyes at a world wearing
gossamer garments to hide
black and blue secrets.

My daughter in the frantic evenings
Knits some stars and secrets,
Some pictures of our old wet pots,
Some letters loosely hanging
Over our home library attic.

He is a nerve-bound
blunderbuss.

I know this, my body
a house choking
on smoke

while his ribs and comet
legs beat as one
like the throbbing sea.

A particle, a wave. Staged, the icicles
record their length. What can happen
with dahlias, the weave of words
and common cells. Another world,
of speeding tickets, rambling songs,
young monsters. We lean against
our metaphors. These hands at work,
a bleach of cells, and semaphore. Dis
ambiguations, monitor combed rooms,
a bleeding rosebush. These hands, he
notes, do not produce an absence of
books. This is how books are made.

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Where did you get the idea for your book From the Belly?  

I realized that I was amassing poems about food, physical experiences like sex, disease, pregnancy, and abortion, and ekphrastic poetry about visual representations of the human body.   The word “belly” was coming up as a common semantic thread in many of these poems and also seemed to speak to the figurative registers of my obsessions.  The “belly” suggests that poetry comes from “the gut,” among other things, and I certainly strive to write “gutsy” work that provokes questions about gender, power, identity, family, etc. There are other kinds of poems in the book too, but because of my visceral need to write them, as well as intellectual, I decided this book had come From the Belly.

Mad Lib

By Virginia Bell

Poem

After Lyn Hejinian’s “I found a wing today when walking”

I found a young woman today when walking—
she was running in her bare feet on the hot sidewalk.

We chatted at the intersection’s red light—
it’s better not to run on the grass, she clarified.

The grass can hide glass, stone, or even
unevenness, surprise.

O vibration
there are two worlds
and you
a thin line between

2E.

When you were a mother for the first time,
beaten down by the first husband who could be dead now and you wouldn’t care,
(remember “walls”?)
she cried        stood right there
on bubbles
threw her words into that thick sorrow,
the kind that only knew vertical indentations       when       you
counted the rocking,
singing your new baby to sleep,
pushing brain ruckus to the back of darkness
aligning the sequence:
count, sing, push / count, sing, push / count, sing, push

The better I get at barking, the more difficult it is
to realize pitch from product. It’s not that I can’t
recognize what a thing is, it’s simply easier
to walk down dark alleys when their walls
are covered in stars. And why not. Dress
truth in feathers and rhinestones. And
while I’m at it—Unicorns. Un-
icorns who (are) like me.