Two Poems

I. Coastal Liguria

Here, where the sea falls over the rock shore
like a loutish drunk, the weather
is gray—or if blue
bled to death.

I haven't come here to feel good.
I have come from the bar,
where I ate gratis kalamatas
and the local wine was white and indifferent,
to appreciate this bitterness. 

To feel scalloped.

To be cold, dry,
and wet as a martini,
forty miles from Genoa, 
where there were women,
and where there were horses
in the salami.

I'm not sorry about how
I responded to your letter,
hashing out nice phrases that stung,
whittling your olive branch 
into a switch.

Look at it the other way.
Not how many angels can you 
fit on the head of a pin
but how many pins can you fit 
on the head of an angel.
It costs nothing to check the paper
for your obituary.

II. America

Really, it boils down to our common Judeo-Kardashian heritage,
our appetite, the way we can suck the marrow from a potato chip,

until nothing fits, not our pants, not our cultural jigsaw puzzle 
pieces of jazz and cat memes, hot dogs and Zoloft,

the sugary agar we sop from our environment, our psyches 
filling osmotically with an amalgam of strobe light and bubblegum.

It's probably always been like this, or it's been like this so long
it may as well have been forever—even Martial bitched about it.

Which might mean we're past the point of reconciliation with
ourselves and it's no surprise that this is an age of mass extinction

and that we're the fucking comet; but there's an order to everything,
however inscrutable, even if it's just the big thieves hanging the little ones.

We have to start somewhere and go nowhere, which happens to be 
what makes the human condition tragic and the fool's arc comic.

Hello? This is sincerity calling collect. Is anyone there? Hello?
This is the black hole calling. This is the black hole calling the kettle.

ANDREW PURCELL's work has appeared in the Baltimore Review, Weave Magazine, Birdfeast, and Forge Journal, among others. He holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Syracuse University, and is the editor of Tirage Monthly (