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Mood for Love
____________NEW ORLEANS, LA
(There I go.) I am the man /
stepping up to the water. I am not /
the man I leave behind, /
his arms snapped before him (at me)— /
taut as when a whip
means giddyap, move. Yes, my knees
are trembling, like water remembering.
I suffer, I am that man ready to quit.
Should I turn back will I face—?
Should I turn back—?
Should I turn back will I have to face
his palms (they are your palms)
open and pushing me to river—?
Will I hear them cry Have faith—?
In the story, Jesus follows
the fishermen after he tells the fishermen
to sail ahead. Yes, he is anointed. Yes,
he is blessed. But what matters
are his eyes, fixed on the fishermen.
Then begins his walking mystery.
No injury. Each step a step toward
the brotherhood there in that boat in the lake.
It is as if each step is carried by
that brotherhood rough in the lake.
He’s hardly wet as they drag him in,
those fishermen, except as he kisses
each of them and they, thunderstruck
(devoted), kiss him back.
(There I go.) I am the man
stepping onto the water (in the story,
water simply obeys) because
you’ve told me so, told me the duties
of the struck-in-love (as my soul
as I go will obey). Here is our home.
Here is the hole in the roof from where
we escaped our home (the water rising).
Here on this roof: I look out at the river expanded.
(I suffer, I am that man anonymous in the waves.)
We need food. (I was there.) We need water.
(There I go.) I am the man stepping onto
the sick water (let it obey). And you are the man
Take it Easy
That the light stalks your skin,
no, that your skin makes it: a radiating
hum, jive, a freedom, a beehive
packed just as much with honey as does it
hazard; also, a balm for where the sting sits,
a treaty, country upon which I first
laid my claim, but was usurped; where
carefully do I move to cross it again. Now here
come my lips to it, pink over your body’s
good bark. Now here is my mouth, entire.
I’m scared of you, baby, it says, scared like a god
is of his faithful—and like the faithful. Light
-struck. Delighted. Terrorstuck. Come, lift up
your gates, your countenance spread like a lily upon me:
whip me, I am so whipped. These are my eyes.
Rickey Laurentiis was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. The recipient of fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts as well as a Work-Study Scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, jubilat, Knockout Literary Magazine and other journals. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at Washington University in St Louis where he is a Chancellor’s fellow. Visit him at http://rickeylaurentiis.com/.