Blackbox Manifold

Issue 12: James Capozzi

Western Bronze Display

Cross the marina in darkness, bucket of water poured into water.

Two men leave as a pair to drink beer 

                                 thirstily, like men on fire, hands torn

open and brown.  Boards crack under the lithe one.

Pelican open on a skiff, low over water and fish—

schools tilt and rise in swells.  Bird swivels, inquires

What is it you're writing?

“Cross in the morning to Animas, La Boca.  The beach at Bucerias

            a machine for lifting water.”

Why are you sweating?  Have you been drinking?

I weigh 400 pounds.  And yes.


Days recede on trawlers, sloppy with algae. 

Inside the gorge a Ditch Witch rusts, slashed by rain and hungry. 


Hovels become jungle as they rot.  Iguanas enter temple trees

            when light rides down whitewashes them. 


Chaste actions of macaws at their seeds.  Everyone knows the macaws are alone. 

I saw one, sooty, with a leg off and its eye torn out

but at night while we sleep the bird the lizard the soot fog sea           convene

            in a clearing and are rebuilt by the jungle.



Eels colonize our ponds themselves.


It's natural to see a duckling taken under by an eel.

When ducks and swans overbreed, eels maintain a balance.


The eels refill drained ponds in weeks.  Their mucous coating keeps them     

undiseased, as they squirm from the harbor

            through damp grasses                           pond to pond, in waves.

It's more important they lay open in the ocean

these early histories

and whether or not we mount fauna   like ornaments

            in canisters or wallets. 

Fissile movement                     a mutiny

            eats grain each day, little by little.  Even the noun eats acid.


You in a Spanish place.  The year out of order.

Only a tent city stirs each morning, more nothing.


End of vista, bathers, boats.  End of steam off of food—no oysters

            no crabs.

End of food, bathers, mercenary venturing in the bay

where the vote ends, and parity.  Birds on their branch end up party to the tzar's

descant.  No dogs.

Dogs end their lost hunting when a wave wipes the cathedral steps—end of nose

   end of hope.

Sunslaves cease their flagellations, blotted by a wave

beneath the lawnchair where Wayne sat, in jeans, tracking a waterspout. 


No trees here.  Used them all for firewood.


No wife, no surf, no work.



Houses of the gorges mostly stone, flat roofed and low. 

Walls thick to protect against heat and storms.  Men lay beams

from wall to wall, on top of these a mat of canes, on top of those flat stones.

Crumbled mica, hauled from streams atop the mountain, must be laid

under a Jupiter in retrograde

says Wayne, eyeing the storm's mess

moving over roofs

tamping clay into the gaps.


Like good fiddle or the firmament you are free to the core

            gleaming with salt.

You are free to the core and stuffed lung, where tar lives.

Evening tells me you are odious

but as lustrous soot clots down walls into December and January

breath, it thinks and is turned over into language

by a bridge, each day, in the mist, keeping time.



A vision of you in tears

taking pictures in a dress, sobbing in frustration and sadness

like a tic bisects me spread out half-in-sun, sound of the workers tapping. 

Hollow pole dragged over asphalt.  Gas truck comes round, jingle blaring,


bangs across a bridge of planks and beachhead

spiked with storm debris.  A woman selling pies swears

it's just one thing after another after another

            then keels over.


Her husband's perched above the sea,


smoking on a throne with his pit tied to it, voracious for our throats,

           tearing at its chain even when

way down the beach we reach the final bend and look back. 

It barks roughly

and holy that way.  It demands our hoarded blood.

James Capozzi is the author of Country Album, which won the New Measure Poetry Prize and is published by Parlor Press.  He teaches at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia.