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Augustine in Carthage, and Other Poems is the daring new collection of poetry from Alessandro Porco. Equally crude and charming, locker-room macho and sensitive, these poems are always singularly marked by formal ingenuity and stylistic élan. A poetry that gleefully articulates the possibilities of a 21st century balls-deep masculinity, Porco’s new collections begins with its most important work, “Augustine in Carthage,” a trans-historical re-imagining of Book III of St. Augustine’s Confessions, which includes (among other things) philosophizing strippers, Tampico bombers, rabbit holes, coprology, and comic-book heroism. But for all its bombast “Augustine in Carthage” examines, quite seriously, ideas related to the experience of experience, the morality of poetry, and the hypocrisy of spiritual conversion. The book ends with an equally significant suite of depraved yet learned limericks: Porco’s perverse star shines in this unprecedented contribution to Canadian letters, exploring myriad filthy matters of heart. Augustine in Carthage, and Other Poems also includes translations of Italian poetry, re-mixes of classic English poems, performance pieces, tender love poems, and if you would believe even a short pornographic novel. Reminding readers that through Tradition the strange and new emerges, this is a deeply-felt and original collection, a work that understands (as its epigraph, in the words of Diderot, insists) “there is a bit of testicle at the bottom of our most sublime feelings and our purest tenderness.”
About the Author
Alessandro Porco is a poet, critic, and scholar. Currently at the State University of New York-Buffalo, he is working toward a dissertation on the subject of hip-hop poetics. His controversial first book of poetry is the "Jill Kelly Poems." He lives in Buffalo, New York.
Read an Excerpt
Augustine in Carthage
And Other Poems
By Alessandro Porco
ECW PRESSCopyright © 2008 Alessandro Porco
All rights reserved.
Augustine in Carthage
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope.
— T.S. Eliot
I came upon the shore and, from the sand, with one step forward, found myself in Club Super Sexe, where Manon-from-Dorion's torsion around the pole was more mannered than the figura serpentinata of Bologna's The Rape of the Sabine; where a daisy Daisy-from-Dégelis made me dizzy, performing swivel-roll upon -roll, with an acrobat's grace, across the acrylic stage, despite her sacrum, swollen like my nutsack, tabarnak; and with Joliette-from-Lachine, my head happily vised between her chi-chis, I thought, "It was you, Joliette, it was you, who inspired Clément Marot's blazon 'Le Beau Tétin'"; and a caryatid Lucky hoisting Luscious, she (Lucky) lapped at Luscious's lucky labium with the plastered feverishness of a cold-blooded fish; and, Berri, a half-Cree from Baie-James, gyrating her country hips atop my stoic dick, spoke into my ear, sotto voce, "Whatever is going to happen is already." Every ecdysiast's twat was bald, and I do recall criminal fuzz of Souk Ahras pubes catching more skuzz than a copper's blotter. I downed my watered-down draft, and with a polite tip, and tip of my Kangol, in thanks, to the doorman, I exited to "Le Grand Saint Cat" — "Liberties of London," since 1978, sandwiched between a deli and a babyGap, official sponsor of Club Super Sexe, "providing undersized apparel since 1982." Streetside, Club Petronius 's proteinaceous crowd of feasters swallowed the street they spit into like Seamen during Fleet Week: a thousand Gitons's nipples nibbled, testicles tickled, perineums rubbed, fingertips as sweet-scented as pomanders, according to Sandy Salivas wettin' their lips. Pushing through I was bum-rushed by a bum; like a cub, having just narrowly escaped the bear-baiting ring, is how I would describe his confused state. He sang this little ditty: "I lost my cock to the war on terror, I kept peace in the sheets of an Afghan whore; two months ago I completed my service, and as not to pass on my syphilis I'd fuck my wife with a strap-on dildo: she tells me she's pregnant two weeks ago!" Mon frère, I didn't know VD'd undone so many ...
I handed him a quarter and continued on my way, headed for the Main; short-cutting across McGill U. commons' sward, I fell in with a small group of grad students, legs criss-crossed like their chirognomic arguments. They chased Tampico bombers the size of telescopes with double shots of Cazadores. Under the moon, through a cannabin lens, they extemporized on everything under everything under the moon under the idea of the moon, from the metaphysics of ontology to the ontology of metaphysics, suffixing "-ness" to their terms (i.e. thingness, beingness) so as to effect or affect — I could not tell the difference — the gravitasness of their philosophiness, making a chiasmic messness of my mindness. Bomber after bomber after bomber, double shot after shot after shot. It proved, for me, too much and not enough. Amidst the "quote-unquote" of it all, I picked up and moved on, totally bombed. I stopped in an alley off Milton Street to wizz; spiced with the finest black pepper, my añejo piss steamed up into my sinuses, clearing the congested jesting of sound-imagery, syndactylic phonophanopoiesis — of Lord Minimus boffing Minnie Mouse; Daffy Fuck as Apollo, ducking Daphne; Eeyore Winters lecturing to Pooh on the history of American Obscurantism; House of Prada Pratityasamutpa;da; Echo blowing Umberto Eco while wearing a pair of sneakers by Mark Ecko; sprezzatura sopressata sandwiches; Fred Flynt-stone directing gonzo starring best friends Betty, Wilma, and a brontosaurus-bone dildo; dinosaurs covering Dinosaur Jr.'s 1994 hit-single "Feel the Pain" (with big-bang irony); a parmesan-cheese rendering of Parmagianino's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror; Il Sodoma's 120 Days of Sodom altarpiece; Benjy Compson in Compton (L.A.), sitting on a stoop with Doughboy and Dooky contemplating the otherness of Time, signifyin' nothing — in my fried blitzkrieged mind (would you, dear Reader, as I proceed upon traveling this exterior interiority, be more inclined to make sumthin' of nuthin' if my surname concluded with that diacritical mark which signifies fortune-cookie wisdom: Porco? Wild rough seas tonight: / Snowy galaxies).
INTERMEZZO. From the symbolic rabbit-ear rabble-"rubble" nel mezzo del cammin between my ears, a literal littoral ozone-smoke proceeded to unfold enfold an imaginary alley real rabbit hole. Muggled cartoon dreamscapes gave way to Dutch angles shot with wide lenses; the situation, here: tense (present); neo-neo-neo-real; snapping Venetian blinds, up-down, don't help matters; shadows shadowed shadows shadowing shadowing shadowed shadows shadows; put your hands where I can seem 'em; liars, cheaters, grifters; brass-knuckled muscle; bean-shooter cowards, on the nut hoodlums; flophouse louses; nose-candy dandies, lazy Daisies; hammers and saws blurring the law, bustin' acromegalic jaws on stutterin' spider pricks; diectic Private Dicks; Nevada gassin' rascals; gatgammed molls, their complex complexions, mirrors mirroring mirrored mirrors mirroring mirrored mirrors, their kisses filling me with existential bliss and intentional phalluses and Freudian fallacies and, and, and, and Christ, what a crisis! So modern, so hip; it's late, and I'm alienated, a stranger givin' testimony, headed for the wooden kimono. Oh, no. Dial H for "Help!" Operator, save me (what's yer rate?) from The (metaphoric) Big Sleep. The ozone-smoke closin' in, like a Force of Evil or a storm on Key Largo, it whisks me up, and, like that, I'm (dime) dropped, The Wrong Man, Breathless, into a crowd of tube-topped Gildas and Lauras, at the corner of St. Laurent and Prince Arthur. Soberish. Tout de Suite. INTERMEZZO FINIS.
To The Copa, at St. Laurent and Bagg. The city's Anglo-literati (sans Lola, Tony, or Rico) philosophized amid the plastic palm-tree deco, defending aesthetic poops du jour, everything from Transcendental-Lentil (which Whitman ate from Emerson's plate) to Bourou-Bourou Dada ("house special" at the Cabaret Voltaire); from Split Pea Stil Novisti to Beat-Beet (i.e. Borscht); from Olson Minestrone to Basho-flavoured Fufu Haiku; from Cock-a-Leekie 'Pataphyseekie to the Meat Queens (Plath, Sexton) of Confessional Chilli Con Carne; from OuLiPo Porridge to Countie Cullen-Slink and, lest we forget, Wole Soyinka's Solyanka, "favourite" of all present bleeding-heart liberal diners. (Pasolini's Salo 's a coprologist's light appetizer compared to such a galimatias pageant of shit.) A portly Professor, Ph.D., Stanford, sat alone, ignored, in this darkest recess of Word and world; he apologized on the antiquated Art of Poiesis, a "moral mode" of being, a "technique of contemplation," a rational composition that, like and with Philosophy or Religion, is the necessary accompaniment to an everyday living of the highest order. "Ready writing makes not good writing, and ready living makes not good living. The capital of -isms determines the form of your frisson: Children, everyday is opposite day; the opposite of knowing is play without play. If you never think, you never have a thought; cogito ergo sum ergo you are are not. Words are yours, and there is a choice to be made: Moderation enables Liberty, Freedom, and Will; Rhyme, metre, and diction are the pure thrill of fidelity to my lovely, lovely wife of thirteen years. Miss, would you ... yes, please, another beer." Of course, nobody listened, his words lost in the labyrinthine tropical foliage, a solitary voice dying dying dying in the noise of Carthage. And me, I tripped balls in the ion john to move this picaresque tale along to its penultimate finale [DRAMATIC PAUSE]. Action: I blew through the swinging doors chewing cheroot between my teeth and looking mean; from out of its zip, my unholstered schlong drawn with the heroic elasticity of Plastic Man (my homage to Montreal's Leonard Cohen) shot across the room, pissing in shitee-soups, one by one, when at last oui-oui my ding-dong did settle in a seat at the table of sad M. Hiver for a last nightcap. Let Death's blow be executed with mannered formality — even Michael Corleone enjoyed the veal before whacking Captain McClusky. My comic-western dick coiled around Hiver's neck, choking out one last breath as soft as a punning snowflake: "Self-Pity is unbecoming of a poem, even more so of a Man. So long, farewell, ta-ta, adieu, EXEUNT."
On I ventured toward that place ("Why the mystery, Augustine?") of enough "poetic" pedigree that these peripatetic thoughts should at least seem to you not to be tiny- tots without sure footing ("Whatever is going to happen is already") but rather fully stepped in syzygy, as I ascend the boulevard's not-so-steep steep of mock-epic shtick, lickety-split. Hail Muse, like a taxi, and so on, and so forth, as my verse proceeds to its converse, O o o bless me father for I — to the Church of the Madonna della Difesa. The cupola-moon projected impressionist light onto the garden façade: red brick billowed like a sloop's sail. The St. Lawrence wind, as willed as a snail, cooled my craquelure forehead — but not enough. I was cracking up; I was dead! I stowed away aboard "The Rialto." What follows (via voice-over narration) is just what I saw: "On the river Jordan our sloop moved slowly; I sat on the bow, staring down intently at the water that, at times, was more mud than lickwud. Thick, textured, slip-slop yuk. I sensed, with the fullness of a midday sun and by a slight adjustment of my perspective that, like looking at an anamorphic rebus by Erhard Schön, say, his Hinaus, du alter Tor!, I should unconceal the meaning of its text, 'seeking wildly to escape my fate,' a pathetic fallacy of a violent mind. And, in fact, that's just what happened; the river's stillness flooded with moving stills: of Jesus' baptism, which 'didst sanctify the element of water to the mystical washing away of sin'; of that Syrian General, Naaman, who, swimming seven times in the river, cured his syphilitic soul; of the Roman harlot, Chloe, to whom clitoral tissue was restored after a skinny-dip, as was her feeling for the feeling of Love 's deep-dick; of 'Geffrey Chaucer,' who inked in the Jordan that quill which scribbled his retraction, Heere taketh the makere of this book his leve; of Thomas Lodge, who, in the 'Preface' to his Prosopopeia (1596), asked to be 'cleansed, from the leprosy of my lewd lines, in the Jordan of Grace'; of Dr. Donne who said young Jack was a quack who didn't know the first thing about Love 'til he kissed the mouth of the Jordan; of John Wilmot, libertine, esquire, his dissembled powder-face, when splashed with nahr al-urdun, collapsed into a rainbow that floated downstream and with it taking Rochester's memory of every erotic dream; and a final image, or rather half-image (a cold shadow forced the sun to shiver away before I could figure the total frequency of the form) of he who I believed to be Porco (Alessandro), the pornographic poet ('Why him?' I made out his pierced tragus, and the tattoo of Kelly, Jill, on his neck), sitting with his back to the bank; and if he laughed or cried I could not tell the difference by his convulsions. The meaning was lost. He sat, alone, waiting without hope, for more and less than the sun."
ROLL CREDITS. I woke from my celluloid slumber under the garden's dew-soaked statue of Dante and le cose belle che porta 'l ciel — a snail tickling my nose, I opened an eye to both fear and admire the marvellous spiral.
Palindrome:After Dino Campana
The roses are deflowered
And the petals fallen
But roses I could not forget the roses She was a rose I was a rose
We made roses
Our blood rose our tears rose The dawn the sun rose
A brio of roses in the sun
In the thorny sun of the briar
Roses are deflowered
We forget it all
Hieronymus Tugnutt in Love
did Tugnutt knock nock,
and in hogeye bacchi
winkel and wame
the quimwig quimbush;
of the city, world-wary —
too, too much so
to ginch, zither or futz
with any impression of deelight:
jutsum just some,
I would weary, bid
thingamy, and good-blite!
On a polly-nussy
summer's day, chuftie enough
to make a kipper twitchet
like titmouse on baz,
there's no place more muffet
to Tugnutt's eyes
— children scat about
amusing themselves with
games of Snutchies —
the tweens wexperiwent wixing
conchita and whidgey,
only to wind up diddlypout
above the toilet
wubbling to God —
and the folks
gig hefty-clefty on the Tenuc
shore, or some-some
the timetime jody
on porches like pipkin,
while their jibs jib.
the Musée des Poontenanny
schmoya of Goya flunked by
gammon of Lautreamont and
twat blivvets — the likes
of which dollup for cooch rides
whipped by gimcracks
Spadger, and Stinkpot streets.
Come dark, the Moon —
muliebral of monilia —
to quote from
Pintle de Case (Boschland's
anaphoric Poet Laureate),
poe hoecake hawsehole
poe dumbsquint cunnikin
And goosed beyond dingle
(alas, when in do, do
as they do, or risk the calamity
of a glamity tag such as
gewgaw tosser or poof todger,
nonny-nonny shaken oaf
with cerassie ease)
every Tugnutt straps his futz
taut as his Achilles
and hiles the hollawaymile
up the skirts of Boschland
where Madam Colpyle's
— loquacious Loquens,
Jaxy and Joxy, her -xious twins,
moot Moot, and la toulouse
twirly-whirly his ding-ding ...
"O swallow, why wench
ile bliff you," Hieronymous
Tugnutt's in love —
Just Passing Through
Taste so good, make a grown man cry, sweet cheery pie.
I came upon the road sign, TRY OUR SWEET CHERRY PIE, and thought, why not? "Miss, one piece, please, of cherry pie."
Cherry — that's what her name-tag said, in red, I swear — served my order, her local smile as warm as cherry pie.
Cherries dotted the diner's white walls. The décor recalled the bedsheets that night I first had at mon virgin chéri's pie.
Two salesmen to my left chit-chatted about vacuum bits;
I wanted badly to stuff their pieholes shut with cherry pie.
I bowed to say Grace. Cherry steam condensed on my piously bent face. "Thank you, O Lord, for cherry pie."
Upon that first delicious bite, bitter cherry-sized tears fell from my eyes — I had no love with whom to share pie my pie!
There was a wino, his stink carrying like a cirrhotic sirocco. So much so, twice I thought my cherry pie a Sherry pie.
Done. Yum. My dish licked clean, white as sakura blossoms in spring — surely even ascetic Bash indulged in cherry pie.
Epigram: On Postmodernity
Bob Alan Deal
I –The Grapes of Susan
Squeezed like a Fender fret-board — mom, dad,
Baby Susan — we packed the '59 Ford and drove
Across country, an Exodus to Garden Grove (CA).
I was five. The Surfaris, The Ventures, Dick Dale —
Surf-rock ruled the air- and ocean-waves, its loud
Tremolo ro-rolling like the tide; orange trees
Lined city streets, conduit fruits for surf-sound
Reverb squeezed-out like rhino-chasers to Hawaii.
The weather was just about perfect for "Bird" —
Our pet name for Susan — whose young lung
Collapsed at birth — that's why we said so long
To Huntington (IN), as per the Doctor's order:
The arid climate, he said, would help her survive;
As for me, I strapped on a guitar for dear life.
II –Bad Is How I Was Born: Bob Alan Deal
Pop some Seconal, chase it with a Sloe Gin,
Or Bellar — the drink I concocted to get cocked —
One part Kahlua, one part brandy, all rock;
Snort an ant, bum a tab of mescaline —
Be somebody. Back in high school, Mr. Hickock
Asked his students to write a short paper on
A favourite poem — Frost and Emerson
Had nothing on "Pressed Rat and Warthog"
(Cream), so I skipped class, I flipped-off school.
Chase the dream: sex, drugs, booze. Be cool.
Hop the magic carpet, ride the La-la high to the stars;
Be somebody, Bob Alan Deal. Be Mick Mars:
I play lead — riffs and licks — for Mötley Crüe;
I was born B.A.D., but it's a pleasure to meet you.
III –The Midnight Gardener of the Santa Monica Mountains
A cannibal, a King — of Borneo, and in love
With a serf — and, a serf myself, too — previous
Incarnations — Wahtoshi — White Horse —
The Stone Pony — and Ziggy Charlemagne —
Each of me connected like a Vivid-girl daisy chain.
For a time I rented a cozy three-bedroom
Pad, as close to the moon and stars as
One could ever imagine; and a hobo-shaman,
The Midnight Gardener, he tended my lawn,
My flower beds, plucking the weeds, trimming
Stems. We are each descendant from
Someone, or something else, he believed:
A King, a beggar, a greater, a lesser being;
And we tripped out on chi till morning.
IV – ... And all through the house
'Tis the season to be, and the Christmas tree
Vince, Tommy, and St. Nikki pinched from a lot,
With the help of — I think — Hans Naughty,
Was decorated in beer, needles 'n' snot —
The thin pine branches carried more disease
Than scraps of North Hollywood ass crashed
On our kitchen floor; trash piled on trash.
Neighbours filed official complaints with the city
For the stink; the landlord reported a rank-Stank
tub brimming with used tampons and pads;
Roaches rimmed the sink, nibbling at scabs —
And at each other, hopped-up on vermin smack.
I kept mine clean — my livelihood, my hands —
Clean as one can when you're "with the band."
Excerpted from Augustine in Carthage by Alessandro Porco. Copyright © 2008 Alessandro Porco. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsAugustine in Carthage,
Palindrome: After Dino Campana,
Hieronymus Tugnutt in Love,
Just Passing Through,
Epigram: On Postmodernity Bob Alan Deal,
Two Flowers: After Giuseppe Ungaretti,
Poem (The AVN Remix),
If They've Compared You,
She's All That,
Chuck Neiderman's "To His Coy Mistress" (The Necessary Roughness Remix),
And Your Nightgown Is White: After Salvatore Quasimodo,
Atechnical Synthetic Futurist Theatre for Nine Voices, for Performance on MTV (The Laguna Beach Remix),
Keg Stand: After Jean-Baptiste Chassignet (1594),
We So Seldom Look on Nantucket (I - XXI),