Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Matt Dennison - Two Poems

Sweet Basil

I wonder about my Uncle Basil,
mother’s young brother who died
when all the pictures and streets

were black and just barely white
and even shoes were rare.
He hung around the Strand Movie

Theater smoking cigarettes in the dark,
damp places, I was told, once—
and that was all, that was all it took.

I wonder what he looked like,
what his death was like. I see a slung
hat, a grin—I cannot imagine the death

my mother blamed her mother for:
kept him in dark rooms, she said,
no fresh air, no fruit.

As if that would appease the one
who punishes small-town boys
for loving the white and flickering

faces above and around corners
and having fathers who uttered
the German grunt in 1941.

Il Connoisseur Sanguinante

“Actually,” said Death, pausing to wipe
his bony chin, “I find that I miss the old
method of flavoring. What was it called?”
he asked, rattling fork on finger bones.
“Marvelous aroma, if memory serves,”
he added, glancing hopefully up the
length of table stretched to everlasting.
but on hearing no reply from his ravenous
companions, only the clack of knives
on china, he fell silent. “Unfiltered!”
he cried out, sitting up straight. “Un…filtered,”
he sighed, savoring the word’s invocation
of better days. “It was strong, I tell you,
possessed of an imperishable integrity.
It presented a challenge, of sorts;
you felt larger when it was over, pierced
with the incessant rhythm of Earth’s eternal
depth and darkness, unlike this... soup,”
he ended, gesturing at his plate. “Ah, well,”
he sighed as he cracked another ribcage
and speared the soft, brown morsels which
he inspected with a wary eye before
popping them into his mouth,
“life goes on.”

After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans (street musician, psych-tech, riverboat something-or-other, door-to-door poetry peddler, etc.), Matt Dennison finished his undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University where he won the National Sigma Tau Delta essay competition (as judged by X.J. Kennedy). He currently lives in a 105-year-old house with "lots of potential" and can be reached at

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