Five Poems and A Sound Recording by Joseph Fasano w/art by Robert Frede Kenter


I knew him. Even before he came
to me, I knew him. I could smell
from the halls of the gods
great banquets;
deep mead
and cinnamon
and leaven; I could hear a voice
still rumbling inside him
like thunder from the deep fields
of my childhood.
I could taste his breath
like my dresses
after rain.

Why should I show you
what was done to me?
Men have made their names
on how they painted us.
But they couldn’t know the dark truth
at the heart of it. They couldn’t see
how he shrouded me
with feathers
and tore me from my own life
with his wildness.
I tell you, it will happen to you, child.
What wilderness, what lost world
do you wander?
What furious word will set your one life
What double-hearted god
will say your name?
horizontal grey scale image music notation, a balcony, collage elements -  a fragment by Robert Frede Kenter

Orpheus to Eurydice

I swore that I would not be who I am,
but then love came and handed me this dark
gnarled harp the Furies call my heart. I am,
Eurydice, I am my darkened heart.

Whatever I have done with what I’m not,
forgive me, singers, make me what I was
before this reckless flesh of mine forgot
a life is just the silent things it’s done.

Leave me, then, leave me in this moon
that moves as though it changes what we are,
changes us and makes us what we’ve lost.

What is left, what is left to do
but turn back in this final, heartless dark
and know you must have been the greatest song?
small blue horizontal - dark blue and black and royal blue -- shapes, glitches, a night ulterior landscape: fences, car park, black flame.


You may have touched his hem in some mad time
or lifted up his crown in all its shards
or helped him wipe the salt away, but I,
I felt his hands on fire in the dark.

There’s nothing that we did that I could say
to makers or to daughters or to sons
and not stand up and know there isn’t shame
in anything the flesh and blood has done.

He wanted to, and no one more than I
remembers what it was to be with him
when rising up from where the earth had moved

he kissed me once and held me with those eyes
then shook his head and took away his gifts
to give them to eternity and you.
monochrome grainy black and grey, large rectangle collage of elements: metal fence, distorted words, notes, abstract shapes, from series "you may have touched his hem" after Joseph Fasano, art by Robert Frede Kenter (2022)

Christ Considers Magdalene

I can’t forget the way her hands broke bread,
the ghosts in her that only I could hold,
her fever dreams. Old straw was her bed
and I swear her heart was black lambs in the cold,

black lambs on my chest, a scent of rye
and cinnamon and wax and gold and bark
to tell us we were there, that though we die
we slay what wakes our lives to what they are.

But she alone remembered why I came.
She stood alone, among the thirsting crowd,
and knew that even she had had a piece in

what was done, what would let night reign,
and how they prove, the powerless, in crowns,
the vastness we become when we’re defeated.
Text "you may have touched the hem in/time"  horizontal like a scroll opening, black and bone-blue, abstract shapes, glitch, music patterns. an excerpt vispo collage by Robert Frede Kenter

Christ on the Mount of Olives

One day they will see it as it was:
a common man who walked among the crowd
and tried to give them anything but blood,
tried to turn away this thorny crown

and gently wake us all to what we are.
I tried, my god; I tried to tell them all
the word you spoke inside me in the dark,
to let them make the fall they had to fall.

But now there’s only time left for a word.
I thirst, my father; I feel you in my bones
like a wild and common thirst for what you do,

but show me, also, show me that this earth
will only hold as long as it must hold
and ruin is another beauty, too.

Joseph Fasano reads: Christ Considers Magdalene

Bright red against monochrome cherry /white background glitch lines in yellow, elongated Staff (music) landscape, red glitchy abstract-tree dancing.   an excerpt collage fragment by Robert Frede Kenter

Color author photo of Joseph Fasano in black cowboy shirt with white trim at shoulders, hands in pocket, black belt, grey jeans, serious expression with hint of smile, books on left in half-empty book shelves behind him

Joseph Fasano is an American poet, novelist, and songwriter.  His novels include The Swallows of Lunetto (Maudlin House, 2022) and The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing (Platypus Press, 2020).  His books of poetry include The Crossing (2018), Vincent (2015), Inheritance (2014), and Fugue for Other Hands (2013).  His debut album of original songs, The Wind that Knows the Way, is available wherever music is streamed or sold. If you haven’t check out Joseph’s other feature recently in our Geographies 2022 series at Ice Floe Press.

Fasano’s honors include the Rattle Poetry Prize, the Cider Press Review Book Award, eight Pushcart Prize nominations, 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 Forward Book of Poetry 2022 (Faber and Faber, 2022).  He teaches at Columbia University and Manhattanville College. Twitter: @Joseph_Fasano_

sepia photo of robert frede kenter standing against a brick wall text stenciled on wall "keep this area clear"

Art: you may have touched his hem, after Joseph Fasano’s Cassandra Poem cycle. a visual poem series by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2022. Twitter: @frede_kenter IG: r.f.k.vispocityshuffle. Robert Frede Kenter is a widely published writer/visual artist, curator of Cassandra/Chorale project & publisher & editor of Ice Floe Press. A visual-poetry collection EDEN was published in 2021. Available at Work in The Book of Penteract (Penteract Press, 2022), forthcoming from Seeing in Tongues, an Anthology (Steel Incisors, 2023).

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