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Rabbit Ears: TV Poems

"With its diversity of content and poetic form, Rabbit Ears feels more rich and eclectic than any other poetry anthology on the market."

                                                                      Rain Taxi


"A smart exploration of the many, many meanings of TV."

                                                                    The Boston Globe





Austin Alexis    Joel Allegretti    Aaron Anstett


Quan Barry    Ellen Bass    Jeanne Marie Beaumont    Martine Bellen    Aaron Belz    Emma Bolden    Charlie Bondhus    Gayle Brandeis    Michael Broder    Kurt Brown    John F. Buckley


Regie Cabico    Peter Carlaftes    Susana H. Case    Guillermo Filice Castro    Ann Cefola    Suzanne Cleary    Billy Collins    Jeffery Conway    Nina Corwin


steve dalachinsky    MaryLisa DeDomenicis    Cat Dixon    celeste doaks    Thom Donovan    Maggie Dubris


Alan Feldman    Monique Ferrell    Edward Field    Annie Finch    Stanford M. Forrester    John Foy    Philip Fried


Jeannine Hall Gailey    Amy Gerstler    George Guida


Marj Hahne    Raymond P. Hammond    Penny Harter    George Held    Matthew Hittinger    Tony Hoagland    Janis Butler Holm    Amy Holman    Bob Holman    Josh Humphrey  Karla Huston


Colette Inez    Luisa A. Igloria


Ice Gayle Johnson


W. Todd Kaneko    Vasiliki Katsarou    Collin Kelley    Ron Kolm   Dean Kostos    Catherine B. Krause   


Peter LaBerge    Gerry LaFemina    Erik La Prade    Dorianne Laux    David Lawton    Lynn Levin    Matthew Lippman    Timothy Liu    Chip Livingston    Diane Lockward    Roy Lucianna 


Marjorie Maddox    Gerard Malanga    Robert Manaster    Stephen Massimilla    Chris McCreary  Lynn McGee    Kelly McQuain    David Messineo    Philip Miller    Michael Montlack    Tracie Morris    Rick Mullin    Peter E. Murphy


Joey Nicoletti


Jacob Oet    Martin Ott    Abiodun Oyewole


Michael Palma    Matthew Pennock    David Phillips    Patricia Polak    Stephen Roger Powers


Stella Vinitchi Radulescu    Bethany Reid    Susanna Rich  Steven Riel    


Aram Saroyan    Jason Schneiderman    Steven D. Schroeder  Elaine Sexton    Ravi Shankar    Neil Shepard    Hilary Sideris    Hal Sirowitz    Ellen McGrath Smith    Rosalind Palermo Stevenson    Terese Svoboda  


Aldo Tambellini    Tantra-zawadi    Mervyn Taylor    Maria Terrone    John J. Trause    Tony Trigilio    David Trinidad


Ryan G. Van Cleave    Gloria Vando    Angelo Verga    David Vincenti


Diane Wakoski    George Wallace    Lewis Warsh    Estha Weiner    Lauren Wells    Marcus Wicker    George Witte  


Debbie Yee    David Yezzi    Michael T. Young 


Grace Zabriskie    Bill Zavatsky  



Our Dolphin



The sea does not betray the ones it loves.


Beautiful and wondrous creature, how long have you traveled to undertake your labor of mercy?


How is it that you, peerless animal, became blessed? Do angels discuss you? Are you an agent of redemption, the patron saint of the outcast?


Why you, graceful sea beast? On whose command do you act? Do you know why you have the honor of such holy work? Can you teach others to be so laudable? Who will be there to take your place when you leave this world?


Go, you miracle of the water. Encounter no impediment.

The Body in Equipoise




Step 1

Think of an empty room. Think of the echo in an empty room. Think of the echo in an empty room as a constituent part of an empty room, like the walls, ceiling and floor. Think of an empty room as the resonant hollow of an acoustic musical instrument. Specifically, think of an empty room as the inside of a piano, formally called the belly.


Step 2

Choose a room in your home that can be converted with ease into an empty room. Put the furniture in storage or donate it to charity. Relocate the contents of the closet to other rooms.


Step 3

Install, one-third of the way down from the ceiling, a bridge[1] on each of three walls (skip the wall with the windows). The bridges must span the length of the walls.


Step 4

Buy piano strings. The standard medium-size piano has 230 strings.


Step 5

Purchase 460 bolts. Screw two rows into each of the three walls, one row along the top (two inches below the ceiling) and the other along the bottom (two inches above the floor). Apportion the bolts per wall as follows: 152, 152, 156. The top and bottom bolts will serve as 230 pairs and, therefore, must align.


Step 6

Fasten a string to each set of bolts. Make sure it is taut. The strings of a medium-size piano have an aggregate tension of 18 tons. You will not achieve this degree of tension. Nor will you be able to tune your strings.


Step 7

When all the strings are in place, toss objects at them. Spoons. Keys. Tupperware®. Run the blade of a kitchen knife along them as you would a stick along a picket fence. Open the windows. Gift the neighbors with your original, atonal and out-of-tune music.


Step 8

If someone ever asks if you play an instrument, say something like "Yes, I play the guest room."




[1] A wooden piece that lifts the strings of a musical instrument and, as a result, enables them to resonate.




Victor Frankenstein assembled his creature from pieces of corpses. This poem is made up of pieces of works written before 1818, the year Mary Shelley published Frankenstein. The cento is meant to reflect her title character's point of view.


Speak, hands, for me![1]

The awful shadow of some unseen Power

Floats though unseen among us.[2]

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.[3]

Man is all symmetry,

Full of proportions, one limb to another,[4]

A brain of feathers, and a heart of lead.[5]


O misery of hell![6]

A little learning is a dang'rous thing.[7]

Fire answers fire.[8]

No man chooses evil because it is evil;

He only mistakes it for happiness.[9]

Science without conscience is

But the ruin of the soul.[10]




[1] William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, III: i
[2] Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty"
[3] George Gordon, Lord Byron, "Darkness"
[4] George Herbert, "Man"
[5] Alexander Pope, "The Dunciad," Book II
[6] John Keats, "Endymion"
[7] Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism," Part II
[8] William Shakespeare, Henry V, IV: Prologue
[9] Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men
[10] François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, translated into English 1653-1694 by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Peter Anthony Motteux

Europa/Nippon/New York: Poems/Not-Poems


The accordionist, the gigolo,
The pugilist surely knew:

It all came down to the lights –

The footlights that fawned over
over your delicious agony.

The lust lights of Place Pigalle.
The chaste lights of Sacré-Coeur.

Mais non

It came down to the heart.
How it fractures like a thrown vase,

Like a lover’s airplane
for which the sky has no further use.

How, in breaking, it is more of a heart,
more than a heart.

Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien

We smoked a Gauloise in your honor.
We danced the Apache in your name.

How we envy you, Mlle Gassion.
You had no regrets. But we do.





Of the orchestral





Of itself



Of the string section's


 In his closing decade

Pablo Casals

Played it


For world harmony

He bowed

It lowed:






His weapon

Of mass



Father Silicon

(The Poet’s Press, 2006)

From the publisher’s website: "Joel Allegretti, author of The Plague Psalms, has been up to no good since his first book, and this new book goes darker and deeper still, delving into such delicate topics as the Juggernaut, Mother Julian of Norwich, Eurydice as Greta Garbo, Nico, spiders, the Gallows Tree, the horrors of 9/11, and 'Billy the Whore: An Encomium in 9 Infections.'"

These poems are architectures, webs and prayers. Their volatility and wit never harden into irony. Read 'Anointing of the Sick' and then 'Poem for the Apocalypse' for the range this book travels. Father Silicon is a challenge and a thrill.

--D. Nurkse, author of The Fall and Burnt Island

From the depths to the shallows
It rises and slashes the placid surface with its wake.
Whales will not challenge it.
Lampreys will not feed on it.
It cranes and flails its primeval neck and roars at the moon.
Through the fog it spies another beam
And glides to shore on a current of its own making.
It prostrates itself before the lighthouse monstrance
And worships the Eucharistic beacon.

It retreats in its solitude to the deep,
Traces an arc of dolphins,
Counts the manta rays.
It happens upon a reef and believes the length of coral
To be another of itself.  It dances a hopeful courting dance
Until it recognizes its foolishness.

It is its only kind.

Many have named it.
Many have sworn to have seen it.
But the mermaid was a manatee draped in kelp,
And raging Scylla, peril of Odysseus: a squid.
But it knows it is no mere fiction.
By the wreckage of the caravels,
By the bodies warming its belly,
It knows it is no mere fiction.

It listens to the sky and hears thunder
Crash above its crested head.
It unleashes its dreadful bellow in reply,
To dare the sky and, thus, prove to the stars
That it is more than a legend
Or the hallucination of drunken sailors.


The Plague Psalms

(The Poet’s Press, 2000)

From the publisher’s website: "Powerful neo-Romantic poetry evoking the darker side of European history: the Black Death, the Inquisition, the flight of the Moors from Spain. Also includes poems on the Golem legend and the Phantom of the Opera."





Sad was the morning,

Was the moth-winged morning.

Sad and gray,

Gray as the marble marked

For our markers,

Was the morning,

Was the moth-winged,

Dew-spittled morning.

And black were our coats,

And white were our scarves,

And black was the melancholy

Which drank us down

And belched us up.

And black was the bark,

The dying, white dogwood bark,

O black was the bark

In the morning,

The moth-winged,


Fog-blushed morning.

And black was the color

Of our true love's hair,

The hair of our true

Lamented love,

Whom we mourned

In the morning,

The moth-winged,



Sparrow-shorn morning.

Sad was the morning,

And gray.

Sad and gray

The morning was.