Begin Anywhere


Tension between the alluring promise of contemporary American suburbia and the high anxiety of a born second-guesser characterize this funny, self-deprecating, and frank portrayal of fatherhood, marriage, and personal transformation, as the speaker’s definition of happiness evolves.

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Tension between the alluring promise of contemporary American suburbia and the high anxiety of a born second-guesser characterize this funny, self-deprecating, and frank portrayal of fatherhood, marriage, and personal transformation, as the speaker’s definition of happiness evolves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The lines in these wise, funny, often startlingly sad poems nudge and jostle each other coltishly, and no wonder: they are the foals of Head and Heart, two mighty steeds to draw the reader’s chariot out of the well-trodden way and straight to poetry’s palace of gold, its realm of the blesséd.”—David Kirby

"Giampietro spends some quality time here interrogating his own appealingly quixotic soul. And like the best performance artists, this dissection implicates his audience, asking us to thoroughly consider what it means to be a friend, lover or parent. Giampietro constructs these questions with exceptional heart and verbal glamour. I love this book. It puts the human back in being." —Erin Belieu

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882295708
  • Publisher: Alice James Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Giampietro the creator of the online poetry journals, La Fovea and Poems by Heart. His poetry, short short fiction, nonfiction, and book reviews have appeared in journals including 32 Poems, American Book Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Copper Nickel, Cimarron Review, CutBank, FENCE, Hayden's Ferry, Narrative, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Poetry International, Subtropics, and Rain Taxi. Awards for his writing include a Florida Book Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and fellowships from The Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. He received his PhD in English from Florida State University in August, 2010 and was the 2010-2012 resident scholar at The Southern Review. Currently, he serves as the managing editor of Alice James Books in Farmington, Maine.

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Read an Excerpt

“The Afterlife”

It was after my 31 year-old body fell from the ledge
of the skateboard ramp and lay on its back clutching
its knee then its wrist that I convinced the white sheet
of high thin clouds I was all right.
It was after I watched one chickenhawk follow
another into a wall of pine trees that I decided
if I can’t be young in the afterlife, I don’t want to go.
It was after this, the black spot of sweat
on the asphalt in the shape of a torso disappeared.

"This Poem Cost Me One Hundred Dollars"

Once when I lived in the city, locked out
while high on heroin and Ecstasy
my head resting against the gray steel door
of my apartment, I had a series of waking dreams
about purgatory in Dante's hell.
But now I'm the kind of guy
who spends five grand I don't have
on clearing the vetch and vines from my yard.
I'm the kind of guy who says heck yes
when invited to a wedding in Milan.
On the flight there I tell a fellow passenger
a story about my son's fear of the ocean,
and then nod yes many times as she relates it
to the Sermon on the Mount.
And when a beautiful Italian man
shows me how to tie a perfect
fist-sized knot in my tie
and then gives me his,
I give him mine,
even though mine cost a hundred dollars.
I'm the kind of guy who once had a tie
that cost one hundred dollars
and now has a story about losing it.

"This Morning My Son Dominic Watches Me Shave my Father"

After a while he runs into the kitchen
to tell my mother I am making my father bleed.
My parents have moved recently
from my childhood house
and now live on the seventh floor of The Hallmark,
a building with a mighty elevator.
Here, the rules, made by the residents themselves,
say the men must wear a tie and coat to dinner.
Dad has so many age spots, half dollar-sized
moles, mottled, wrinkled skin. I had not looked forward
to shaving him. But he helps me by smiling
a grim smile when I scrape just below his lower lip.
His dimpled chin a crevasse, I wrestle
with his great jowls as they slip back into what was
his indignant but now wizened frown.
Dad is ninety-one and has become
wonderfully more and more sweet
as he has grown senile. I'm sorry, I say,
it's this lotion and my clumsy left hand.
The wattle under his chin is next. I say,
Look up and again, Look up, Dad
before he shows me his slack-skinned tendons,
sinuous as the kneed base of a great water-tree.
Finally, I shave the hairs that grow on his ear tops,
the same ones I pluck from mine. I linger there
and over his beautiful, strange head,
over the fine hairs that grow from his bald pate,
and think of his story explaining his baldness,
how the Indians scalped him—how
I believed him about so many things for so long.
And maybe it is because I have cut him so much,
but he is more lucid than usual.
He makes jokes with Dominic. He makes sense.
I wash the foamy muck from under his eyes
and where it has gathered under his ears.
Dad gets close to the mirror and tells my boy
to get a lawyer, so he can sue me for all I've got.

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Table of Contents

Juice 11

Conception 13

Another Poem Scoring 4.7 on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test 14

Vain 15

Skin 16

Do I Know Berryman? 18

My Brother's Head Has Turned to Broccoli 19

Foreplay Pantoum 20

This Poem Cost Me One Hundred Dollars 21

Ptoooey! 22

Poem with a Misremembering of a Movie Plot Line 23

Frankstory 24

Notes Toward a Long Marriage 25

Me Spy with My Little Eye 26

Lines While Waiting for the Water to Boil 27

Fear of Takeoff and Landing 28

Confessional Poem #783 29

To Do List #5333 30

The Afterlife 32

Dope 33

Indulgence 34

Frank Giampietro, Poet 36

Begin Anywhere 39

Dear J, I Patched This up Instead of That One I Promised About Simone Weil 41

Angry with You at Bower's Beach 42

Death by My Son 43

Frankie the Haggler 45

On the Taste of Horsemeat: Milan, Summer 2002 46

Please, 48

Makeshift 49

Is That All There Is? 50

Anti-Ekfrankcis 51

At the Do-It-Yourself Recycling Center 52

7 Spandrels 53

Tomorrow I Begin 57

Poem Instead of a Meditation 59

Meditation While Chewing on Some Skin Around My Thumbnail 61

This Morning My Son Dominic Watches Me Shave My Father 62

Jealous 64

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