The Pasolini Book

May 1, 2010                                                     

it was just after all soul’s day, november 2nd, 1975. i was 6. the man i would become was murdered outside of rome, images of his crushed body broadcast worldwide, and no one in my house noticed or could have cared. my family lived in a suburb separated from others by wide belts of undeveloped land. it was organized by section and each section was designated a letter that every street name began with; we lived in the g-section on glen flora drive. the alphabetical logic was meant to give the families living there a sense of natural order and local cohesion. it felt like a gated community, but there was no need for a gate. trespassers were always immediately detected and observed. the gate existed in my subconscious and though i never got close enough, i knew an electric current ran through it. in 1982, my mother chaperoned our class boat ride on lake michigan, and, seeing me among my peers, registered to what extent my clothes distinguished me from them. i went to a catholic grade school where we all had to wear navy slacks and yellow, white or green polo shirts, so the problem was really one of style; my black suede shoes and the tattered holes in my shirts where i removed the designer’s insignias with scissors. she drew me aside at the prow of the boat to ask me, “why won’t you wear chinos and loafers like the other girls?” i took my eyes off of her, furiously, and focused past the breakwater, clenched my teeth and said, “i’m not like other girls.” i want very much to remember what happened next. did i have a hard time sleeping that night? i didn’t know the implications of the 5 words i pronounced to my mother – a message veiled to myself but plain to her. as i found out much later, she cried herself to sleep that night, her fear of what i was had been confirmed. i noted that she intensified her surveillance of me, and her guardianship, as i was both a threat and in need of protection.


i became aware of my own mortality when the man i would become, pier paolo pasolini, was found murdered on the beach in the port town of ostia.


– Stacy Szymaszek

I Too Am

I too am on the way to the baths to free myself of the anxiety of ancient illusions my desires are humble to wear a pressed cotton shirt with comfortable shoes to have a house in a district where people say hello a sun-warmed reading room a balcony for roses to think that a god may still be in me . . .

I too have dreams that anchor me to the world in my custom-made cabinet how many drawers will I need? one drawer for each manuscript how many armchairs will I need? one armchair for each friend and in the bedroom a simple bed covered by a flowery heirloom then to sleep surrounded  by the paintings I love . . .

I too am on the way to the baths to make my longing public

Sex Consolation for Misery

I pencil in a Brindisi moustache and go where one thinks the city ends sending watchwords to the glinted

in the grace of love the wretch feels himself a man

then is feared and despised this is the nth onset of the city

secure in intrinsic blocs lovers confirm there is hope in having no hope —century, be silent I have disguised myself within your holographic light

and as a sculpture in acid rain dissolve into the hush of discrepancy

But It Was a Naked and Swarming Italy

in a room with crumbling plaster my thoughts turned to my appearance

my appearance as a man who was clean-shaven in a suit

the sound of kids playing was indistinguishable from a violent dispute

dusk became operatic with mothers' voices

as television reports alerted the public

walking in the city could be hazardous

a city that didn't depend on what I wrote about it

or how I wrote myself into it

or who I was when I left my room that night

I Too Am . . .

I too am on the way

to a Caracalla bath

of the mind      thinking

with my stupendo privilegio di pensare

(if there is a chance of God

I love myself for the sake of this God)

our exiles lengthened

I look to the fat fertile mountains

suddenly rapt     undisturbed by

the evil of the day     a new billionaire

gets made     the bath I draw

is a blood bath

with the eye of a broken dish

reduce myself to    niente

victorious     lesbian    off-grid

their brand of violence

cannot locate

me in this immaculate shirt

light house slippers

a run-down house high up in full sun

with a few other women not big on chit chat

who broke the arms off the chairs

imagine being anchored to this world

by the thud of lemons

and the voice of a God in a bird on a wire

alone to the bone alone to the bone

I too am traveling across land

to bask in my belongings

stored beneath a highway

near a waterway

a leak dripping on my cabinet

books   manuscripts   paintings

of anatomically wrong horses

gifted by cruel mannerists

safe in another corner

I sit on a golden cushion

give the cabinet a thousand drawers

maybe I've written enough

but enough with hierarchies

I offered a bit of possible order

a bit of sweetness

Sex Consolation for Misery

you poets with your secular response to time     that is homogenous

are ten-hundred devils     trying to replicate the broken world

a virus revealing how broken     will I persuade devils

to come to grips with silence     the metrics of your audience

is a receipt blowing in spring wind     will you exclude yourselves

part crowds with your nudity     walk to the nearest parcel of dirt     land on your face

where new ordinances say honor is dishonor and there are no winners

or luck    for that matter     luck

is outlawed       will your strength ever be lightness

away from school and some relatable drama

will your joy ever be in the tumult of sex

will your sex ever be an origin story with ten-hundred ends

will you ever admit you are a holy wretch

who could be made fully human when so consoled

But It Was a Naked and Swarming Italy

I worked voraciously in New York City with a completely

naturalized suffering and thus my poetry-dreams

were kept intact     it was even fun to write about

if you can recall my raucous laughter     and I entertained

the idea that the city might depend

on poets documenting its streets while walking to and from work

our reality demon blessedly devouring literary nostalgia

now I know I have a calling with no church

yet in agreement with Pasolini in his naked and swarming Italy

of jasmine and poor soup     in poetry is a solution to everything

our role then    to lace into lifetimes of tyranny

solving in our day to day 

finding your glasses on your head

palming the pendants of our brilliant dead

in my dusty exodus I who cut a stable and sane figure

sweat the sweat of a traitor

to language hatched by prolific politicos

are you willing to let your body go?

wring out your wrags

in the shadows of what they have named action