Sunday, October 07, 2007


Conrad Didiodato teaches high school English in the Halton region of Ontario, Canada. He has been writing poetry for past few years with publications in World Haiku Review: The Magazine of the World Haiku Club (e-zine); LYNX: A Journal for Linking Poets (e-zine); Tower Poetry; Ancient Heart Magazine; Serengeti Press; Voices Israel 2007; and Poemata.

The Alpheus


The home is wherever the silver
workspats are,
crumpled under the sink; a stiff holly print
with brocaded lily-
border, too,hanging on the wall; and, of course, the newell ban ister
tenants like to rub
like the Apostle's big toe—

all of which they
call not just pretty squat living space but in Hamilton even
more smartly,
the Alpheus, building and grounds, a mile
down Main St.
near the core. For after Victoria, tall as the grey-

hemmed draped mom
of us all, who herself icily stands moss-grown, hiding
syringa under her
skirts; and a musty St. Pat's, always certain with damnation,
squinning through the long lancet eyes—

after these it's quite possibly the most endearing
thing about life here.
Can't match it with roses either, purple-stemmed outside the
courthouse, under stone pioneers,
and those coying sweet smells of bread from some mill outtake
(but picking up a stray rainy scent, too)

Or even with the skyway rising elongate over the bay,
visible from the foyer,
not that you'd try to look for it
cooped up as you are in that narrowing adamantine
(& with the mountain being too high & hard-faced to live on).

Wilcox St., too, is a frontier
with no more huckleberry numberless between beach and marshes;
the way's direct from there
to the glowing conveyors, a quick shuttlebus in, & where trying to stay
alert is half the job; and just as

the city's rust-tipped bells of church ring,
it's great to get home,
shift ending at dawn, and before the downtown crowd gears up,
and dream in the Alpheus
but not a pretty welkin dream blushing overhead. A real heaving aurora,
wide-flaming & hot,
always releases into the hollow of the city's oxidesky.

-Shawn's first week-

To the bayfront
eagerly transferred, on a garish & stinging day,
he's in with quick steps,
'mornin'-saying through the gates in a lumberjacket, a shaggy-
coated smoke hung&nb sp;on his lip;

for it's a contest of spite between work and sleep;
he's brought there steadydays
by bus-transfer, to company grounds—
the same grind between the comfy hassock of home
and Jockey Club, beer and terrycloths,

even with a nervy child
and a wife warming in her morningdress. Work's where he sees
pigingots need scarfing
and how they seem to go mouldy & pat, on his shift,
& tagged straight for transport to docks

somewhere in Hull. Along the shoreline everywhere
the smell & look of slagponds!
A cinch to transfer back to the Alpheus! And during this time,
Shawn being barely twenty,
a foreman named Brewster, in his general's asbestos coat, always was
and will be,
a second dad to him,

for it's right (salmon-eyed kid just married, just landing
on his feet!) needing work and God;
and told what a good thing not to have read the Playboys
in the lunchroom,
& after long discussions, said he didn't do it,

staying pure for his Tracy, at home
where he'd always meet her and the kid. And home now,
seeing how little sun's left,
like all the feisty stodgy sons he sleeps for the next day,
good 'n square-browed,
Shawny boy who's very happily husband-eager now to impress,

and by going straight into
the openhearth hell every time, to try make the world
happy & safe for his kid.
But it's always a fight between wife's satchels & rags,
bridegroom's toilet-cologne
and the pondscum of work. With his smokes lying where
he always dropped 'em,
in the car, crumpled beside the silver spats.

A Dirty Hymn

"Flowers will caper today," I hear a one god say,
dancing over the ashes,
& pod-heavy;

and a Sun awe-struck, way up there,
scalloped sides heaving,
will tear wide open to let the rain-heavy winds

come fumbling after.
For somewhere between the dance & soggy ashes,

—and forget the
stupid Dieu mon chevalier crap!—

& not a more sun-charged thing than any dreamy Tree,
yellow- tasselled,

is the hymn,

and never called by me the Writ of the 'holy mud' for nothing, either,

a hymn of baby sages,

and always culled from the prickliest shrubbery, always worm-pecked
& dry,

hymn to its dirty core.