Joseph O. Legaspi
Dispel the Angel
Lately his loneliness has sprouted wings.
It hovers above his darkened head like a desecrated
angel. It clouds his eyes with the cream of nostalgia.
It is the ghostly geyser of the spouting steam
when the kettle boils for his private tea.
In bed, balled up under the sheets,
an echoing cove of limbs, he thinks
of Orpheus: if only he could’ve contained
his forlorn love for Eurydice
and not turn back.
Such a gulf, sad bereavement.
Recently he’s gotten into the habit
of talking to himself, at first in front
of the foggy mirror while shaving,
the blade scraping off lather to reveal
his translucent face, but now, often, he talks
in movie theaters, public gardens, on the corner
of Houston and Ludlow. At dinner, he discusses
Magritte and Hopper with his duck l’orange.
The salt and pepper shakers can-can for him.
Later, he says to the lamp, I haven’t been touched
in weeks. He senses he’s transcended
the loneliness of the inanimate: of empty
corridors, of solitary light illuminating a house
on a stretch of highway in daytime,
of wet matches, rotting fruits, and dust.
On a summer’s morning, he then dispels
the sullied angel from his shower, makes
an appointment at his neighborhood salon
where the shampoo girl will shi-atsu his erogenous
scalp with her thin fingers. Soon after, on the subway,
sitting next to a man, their arms touch—heat traveling
by the wires of their hair—then rub slowly against one another
like the first friction of the earth.
Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of the poetry collection Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007) as well as the chapbooks Aviary, Bestiary (Organic Weapon Arts, 2014) and Subways (Thrush Press, 2013). His work has appeared in anthologies including Coming Close (University of Iowa Press, 2013), Collective Brightness (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012), and Encounters (Skinner House Books, 2011), among others. Joseph’s poems have appeared in journals including Callaloo, Gay and Lesbian Review, Gulf Coast, MiPOesias, PEN International, Rattapallax, and many others. He has received a Fulbright Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, Global Filipino Award, David Blair Memorial Chapbook Prize, and Ledig House/Art Omi residency, among other prizes and awards. Joseph co-founded Kundiman (www.kundiman.org), a non-profit organization serving Asian American writers and their work.
This poem first appeared in the journal From the Fishouse and also appears in the chapbook Aviary, Bestiary.