Tullio Francesco DeSantis - Poerty/Text


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"minimal me"

I am learning my lessons well.
Reflected in ancient tidal pools
I see how shallow I am.

The numberless stars say
I do not count for much.
The September moon casts sharp pine shadows across my brow.
It is so far above me.

Dolphins smile, knowing they are superior beings.
Eyeing me, they dive deep,
demonstrating I do not see beneath the surface of things.

Even the sand fleas make me twitch like a puppet.

Nature teaches.
To be free, I must be free of me.
To make sure I understand.
It plans to kill me.


"I am old and I will die one day"

I am old and I will die one day
So I thought it was time I came clean.

I gained enlightenment at an early age.
I lived a so-called “normal life” with this knowledge
So that you would believe me when I decided to reveal all
As I am now doing.

It’s not comforting to know
Hearing this will not set you free.
Freedom is not for us in this life.
We cannot be other than we are.

We pass our time with useless things
As if we live forever.
It’s our bodies doing this.

Our minds know very well we die.
But our bodies refuse to hear of it.
Our bodies desire the useless things.

We go about our days in service to these dumb limbs
Serving them endless amounts of what they desire
But does not sustain them
Making them as comfortable as possible, as they demand it
Because they refuse to accept they will die.

Our brilliant minds are filled with petty annoyance.
That’s our lazy bodies talking
Constantly forcing us to confront ourselves in mirrors
So we can see the damage we’re doing.

And while we know love is the answer,
We are faced with the hard fact
We can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves.

And we do not love ourselves.
We are our bodies.
And because they are such stupid brutes
They are utterly unlovable.

I am good looking enough to know looks are worth nothing
And wealthy enough to have figured out it has no value.
I am intelligent and know I can never be smart enough.
I see far enough to see an end.

Enlightenment is like these things.
Once it is yours you see right through it.
And you know
Like everything else
It is nothing at all.

The secret of life is life.
We all possess it for a while.

I am old and I will die.
It's time to say the things I've said.
I am old and I will die.
You’ll know it then.
I was already dead.



Bottom dwelling
Looking up - I sometimes do
The old air ocean everywhere

The fringe of your turbulent skirt
On my head
I’m so small I can’t see your knees
Or that deepest black hole
Of yours
I can see on TV

They call it your eye
But I know
What it is


Isabel Gone

Here up north
A hundred miles inland
Air's like it rolled off a south sea beach

You left a mess, you know
You must have been too proud to care

And everywhere
The trees bare more
Tell you the truth
There are fewer trees today

You were a murderess too
Bittersweet in my hand
This orange Monarch
Died young


Getting rough out here.
The cicadas of late summer are silent.
Their crisp skins, strewn around
mixed with acorns,
lifeless leaves.

My path is crossed by doomed survivors
- old bees getting a final buzz off of their chests
- limping crickets fooled by mid-day sun
- crazy drunken flies in kamikaze loops

The praying mantis I spy
poised on a fire escape downtown
has no religion.
And the green katydid
flying toward me
with impossible wings
is unnerving

These squirrels are way ahead of me.
Summer was just a dream
and they knew it.


our pact with dogs is we are their masters.
we get to make the hard choices.
they get to accept them.
they never stop loving us.

we never stop loving them either.
but it's harder for us.


“brain freeze”

Words are frozen mind crystals.

Sentences are chunks of ice.

Once they are formed

That part of the brain stops thinking

And just repeats the words

Over and over.

We end up with titanic icebergs

In our heads.


sound underfoot
once, sound was all above me
buzz of crickets, shrill cicadas
shook the trees

absent now
instead it's the sharp crunch
of insect bodies
mixed with acorns
beneath my boots

there’s old leaves too
one day they’re tree-bound and wind-rustled
and the next day they show up
down here

this transference
seems fraught with some meaning
that’s beyond me
like the warmth that slips farther
away each day

I know it is gravity
that does it
but it seems
much heavier than that


Late in October
Playing the odds of one more warm day
The last katydid is hanging tough
While a mantis prepares for hara-kiri

Nervous chipmunks pool intelligence
They’re drawing up secret maps
And hiding them in burrows
I hear each year they forget
Where they’ve stashed them
And so must struggle like the rest of us
Blinded by frozen eyelids
Stumbling, falling
Toward utter hibernation

Squirrels are in my face
Staring right through me
Peering for nuts I may have hidden
behind my ears

I guess I’m no threat now
Compared to what’s coming
The ones who can’t take the pressure
throw themselves in front of cats


Fault for the Fall
You’re just being cruel now
We really did all we could
To pretty things up around here

A lot of us are trying to pick up after you
But it’s a lost cause and we know it

Leaves are strewn around
With no concern for what’s getting clogged up
Don’t you know the rain needs somewhere to go?

Treeloads of berries are just rotting on the ground
The sidewalks are all sticky
And it’s starting to smell
We have to live here, you know

It’s cold, too
Getting fat is making sense
Already, some of us are starting to give in
Those white flakes you threw in my face today
Were an insult, weren’t they?

Not only that
You threw my hat in the dirt
When I walked out the door

And this killing spree of yours
Goes on and on
I know for a fact
The doe on the highway
Was innocent

How do you expect us to act
With such a wicked Mother?


Sticking to my boot heels
Soft flesh of rain-pelted trees

Downed too early, the newspaper said
To show the very best of fall color

Another failure like this
And the whole year will end
In the middle of December

Instead of just freezing
It will be two weeks
Of absolute zero
And no light at all

Then we’ll be sorry
We criticized
Autumn’s best effort


Low-Rent Birds
I fall for common birds
My youth misspent
With bushtits and boobies

Robin seduced me
Each and every spring
I loved her
For her breast alone

I'm still thrilled by starlings
Simple silhouettes
With little hearts as grand
As the beating cores
Of brilliant eagles
That have no time to flirt

All birds are lovebirds
Equal in the blue eyes
Of the empty sky


blue air above us
summer green
surrounding warm skin
we’re free here
like butterflies
hawks, foxes
deer, serpents
like undulant trout

we're arms and legs
splayed wide
at play with each other
spead under radial boughs
of wide open elms

we're hot pink
as thistles
and naked
like the flesh of day lilies
pulsing nearby

as we pound each other
into the ground



up there in solid blue air
architecture of vapor
white water lakes
lacking shorelines
move cautiously
aware of imminent dissolution

their slow billowing crawl
is stalled by Sol


I think a new poem -
not because you stopped those apocalyptic downpours,
tornadoes, even,
and show a day of actual sunlight and clear sky.
Hatched during your mean streak,
the mosquitos are mid-summer strong.

I was writing about that sky
before you took it away from me
for two too-long weeks.

I was lying naked under your sun.
And, as you know,
I was looking good back then.
I don’t think I trust you enough
to get back out there now.
but I’ll just forget about how I look.

Not only that -
I was drawing again.
My pen and paper
suffused by sunlight,
I drew up a storm...



four million years
moving through
this hidden place
it has always been yours
but I share your secret now

deep in your blood
you know it by heart
and your heart
is my target

you’re everywhere
these barren days
leaving traces
on hard ground, on trees
making mistakes

showing yourself
is your fatal flaw
you’re giving yourself away
and you don’t know that

you can not help yourself
I understand this behavior
in my own flawed heart

sensing me
in your space
I sense you in mine
you’ll die here
as will I one day

but you are more beautiful
than I
this is why
you will be the first
to die


running, bleeding

blood's flying out of you
like a flock of red birds
freed up from pressured spaces

you're weakening now
running for your life
as life leaves you
marking the trees
with inner scent

the dry woods
soaked red
leaf and root
will grow anew
warmed and fed
by your pass

your deer heart, unaware
continues beating
pumping out your life
as if you are the world
but you are not the world
you are yourself
and you are dying

your bright tail
signals surrender
I'll make this up to you
this beautiful murder
you will continue on
within me


building the blind

I use your eyes
and think as you
see the old place
as new

treading familiar pathways
carefully leaving no trace
no scent of my presence
in our shared territory

stepping back
breathing it in
observing the execution
of your ancient habits
comprehending the logic
of your journeys
and the reasons why
you move

finding your shapes
pressed in the grass
where your kind halts
before stepping
over the break
in the rusted wire

where you scrape
the soft earth
where you pass
and have passed
for millenia

your prints still fresh
the raw rubbed trees
all the feral signs
of your dangerous life

you are drawn here
by the fallen chestnuts
the white oak acorns
where the autumn sun
warms the side
of the southern hill
where you hide at noon
by the quenching waterway
the cool places where
I spot you
beneath the moon

the old paths
converge here
in this enfolding valley
this is where
I'm building the blind
on the earthen dam
above the small stream

behind two trees
I tie branches
to brambles
lay a cover of twigs
drape brown grass
level a spot

when I return
I'll sit for hours
watch the frost evaporate
admire the morning mist
note the insistence
of the woodpecker
and wait
for the flashing instant
I end your numbered days

this ineffable
special place
is not so unique
each foot
of living earth
is after all
a place for dying


Taking Off

holding you between your legs
sliding my finger into you
I lift you up
with one hand

holding you at arm's length
I turn you like a pink propellor

spinning on my finger there
you lift us both into the air
while down below us
sirens blare
people stare
and animals on rooftops
call out our names
as if we were
their long lost pets

passing through a clear blue cloud
I let you go to spin alone
freely as you dare
little drops of golden dew
trickle down my palm
reminding me of where
I held you there
before you were
really even born

now, when the wind
sways the yellow trees
I kiss my fingertip
I hold it in the air
believing you
hover there