Dennis Formento





     for Hilarie Schackai

	Seed the clouds with the message
so that they drop balloons bearing
the message: water.

Water hails from Wisconsin!
Water sleets, water rains
water snows.  Roll, Wisconsin!

Water works its way into our pores
when it rains,
when we shower it rains
when we sweat we sweat it out
like water.

Water drowns in the bathtub.
It drinks in the fishes
it gargles & spits to keep its mouth clean.
It micturates and urinates 
	suffocates under a blanket
	of snow.

Water drops not a drop in the desert,
O Libya, O Egypt, Bahrain and Oman,
but it bursts dam bursts dam well bursts
damn busted you blackops wardens of Cairo!

Wells of passion, towers of water
took my house away
314 B Lakeview Drive
1708 Tennessee St.
& sank through my roof
1541 Bayou Road
the Merrimac bursts its levees in the spring
the Po carries mountains of oiled silt to the sea
2.5 million gallons of petrol
on Berlusconi's filthy hands
oiled trout, blackened bird life
driven from their homes by exploration. 
Towers of water took Japan away

Water, a collusion of hydrogen
oxygen and sunshine
that returns again and again to the sea.

Burial at sea.

Black Nile, White Nile, Blue Nile
the River Niger, Limpopo
the Greasy Grass

Bonfouca, Liberty, St. John
Monongehela, Irriwaddy, Usk
a river delta known on Mars
disappears into the sea

Bubbles of rain, sheets of humidity
dew thick on the back window of my car,
the thirsty winter greens drink it up like water.
The ants that pile up their homes in my herb garden make it on dew.

Stagnant and fetid in a canal
dripping sewage from a culvert
beneath West Metairie Road
nutria pop their heads up
to be shot off by SWAT cops
with rifles.

I am an invasive species.  You've got my number.

A swollen rat turns belly up and floats
to the surface  of my cistern.
Pollen sprinkled white on the surface of the bucket
from which the dog drinks.
Take two gallons daily to the lettuce to deny mosquitoes breeding.

Squeeze me, twist me, tease me
wring me like a towel
drop me to the ground like a pile of dirty clothes
minus my water.

One hundred and fourteen fingers join together in the Po.
Two and a half million forgotten gallons of oil
released into the river by Mafiosi are still on Berlusconi's hands.
Ninety-eight  tributaries to the mighty Mississip'
and the Amazon dwarfs them all.
Its mouth is broad as Alabama is tall
its rain forest breathes out four tenths of our oxygen
rubber, teak and hardwoods of all nations
cough up half a lung, Americans, she is paying
for your vices.

Deadzones in the Gulf, seabottom shrouded in oil-the 
Okalok, Spirit Water. Deadzone in the Pacific, near the Oregon coast,
a plastic island midway to Hawaii from San Francisco, Ferryman Joe!
Allons, regard!

Sargasso Sea of polymers
ever-living, never-dying plastic.
Now I get into my car and drive home
through the Bayou Sauvage refuge.
Across Okwata, five pelicans keep pace with me in a steady line.

Stuck in a contradiction, I cannot drive away from it.
I am oar-locked, breathing in 
my own conscious fumes.

St. Croix, Illinois, Rock River, Red
Kaskaskia, Minnesota, Ohio
White River
& Arkansas
four, one hundred year floods in the 20th Century
Bio Bio
the Mississippi, Father Water
10 major tributaries, 88 streams
flow into him

Water: the crystal cell, 
the drop that cools. 

"industrial light crowds out the galaxy"

Industrial light crowds out the galaxy, but
here the wind is clean and unchanging.  
Each little bit of weedy grass must be plucked
the gutter dug and crusted garden bed turned over
broken up like rock and made soft.  Fire pops,
the cur cuts out for the corner of the darkening yard
& barks his head off.  I burned last month's bills
but now, what do I do with the processed-paper-and-
inky ashes?
		Take a hoe, furrow the wet earth
where the run-off goes, set up the garden edging
and line the gutter with bricks.  This summer,
this plot will not turn into a muddy subset
of Bonfouca's underground watershed.

Poem: "Useless"

		Useless, useless!
		--heavy rain driving
		into the sea
		    --Jack Kerouac
twenty million gallons of hubris in an hour
rushed across the highway and crushed a mountain of cars
seawater corrodes, yet seawater
was the only thing
plentiful enough to cool the nuke's core
and release again
twenty million gallons of hubris into the ocean.
Tsunami:  I've never heard the sound of it,
but I've heard the hurricane
ten  thousand crows descend upon the water
'tiring it in black
the sound of rain pounds the restaurant windows
the lights go out as I write these words
a loud crack thunder pops and my room
goes black. I can't even see my eyelids closing,
the telephone goes down
and rain falls relentlessly to the ground
fills the bucket from which my old dog drinks
fills the bellies of the peppers in our garden 
& in the morning, there will be crawfish mounds
spread out across the yard. 

Bayou Paddle

rain, water, rain
the trip leader said he thought it would rain
thirty inches of black broth equals Bayou Lacombe
something large that I can't see whipsnaps just under the surface
ten thousand allergens per square foot 
in the form of green pollens float 
in the bend where the flow slows even further down
below point-2 miles per hour dead current
nothing moves until mid-afternoon when something 
jumps for a water-strider and disappears again
under the chicory. The bottom is invisible.
Is it six or seven feet to the channel floor? The lazy curves
make you believe you are turning inward, rounding curves
invisible birds squawk, there is not a deer
nor a pig, not a third thing in sight
except 47 mosquitoes on a back trail who find me
when I step away to piss, the sky is high and gray
it will not rain but the heat is not yet unbearable
Which way do you go when the channel bifurcates 
and the cypress trees in both directions
look the same?  These same trees are slaughtered for their meat
sprayed brick red, to mulch suburban lawns 
Two tall giants without a canopy, bleached white
by death-a hole two foot wide opens when a branch used to 'a' been
and this guy in another boat says, "Now, I'll bet
some lumberman would love to get hold of those two"
Deep inside that giant's trunk, out of sight in its hole
sits a pair of unblinking eyes, owl, peckerwood, crow
waiting for the seacoast to come swallow this all up 

Cheated by death, for a few lawnchairs, some barbecue coals
we go out every spring to pick up another couple 40 pound bags of minced cypress groves. 
Beneath the surface of Bayou Lacombe are pressed the next
ten million years' production of oil: resinous, thick, the water resembles
the mudflat below it, oil pressed out of the hearts of frogs

Something bumps the keel of the canoe
and moves away, sub-surface-the gray trunk
of a cypress slumps across the water, arms splayed up and outward
like a wing that has frozen in mid-air
a canoe can just barely pick its way 
through its rib cage

short attention span poetry

Cricket in the dry brush:
        grand entity
in the tiny elements

stockpile geraniums
they go to critical mass
in the spring

good morning, earthworm
sorry to wake you up
so rudely

I just ate a tomato worm
        the price of a backyard
        fresh salad

cat on my pajamas
the first hairball of spring!

fishing through fire pit ash
for a couple good nuts and bolts
remnants of the old swing

dishing out the last 
winter-lettuce salad
how many of these worms have I eaten?

it's spring! and
the first ant bites of the season
are here, and here, and here

Daiichi Fukushima

we told you thirty years ago
now the truth comes back to bite you
20 billion gallons of hubris per hour
should be stitched into the eyelids of us all
blinded, our hell
comes now in the form of water
The power of a column of water
rising up from the sea floor
in the aftershock of earthquake:
terremoto, the earth moves, cracks its jaws of earth
the jaws crack open and the roar of pain 
at dawn ruptures the containment vessel
of Daiichi one, two, three, four
saltwater drenches the reactor core
steam vented by design and flaw
plumes out east in a long pennant
to reach our west coast, nothing
I have no words for this yet

il Giardino Abbandonato

                           Chista è 'na storia
                           d'un piscispàda:..
                           storia d'amuri...

a song of Modugno's has haunted me
the song of the swordfish whose lover has been netted
the song of the émigré leaving his arid town, abandoned by water
the withered breast of his mother nursing her last child
while her first one leaves for America, 
and of the moon just risen through the dried olive trees
the submerged oboe, his dead guitar
the mirror that speaks nobody's name 
water, water, Narcissus's face in its mirror
the song of the black cat crushed under the drunkard's shoes
and the song of the dirt-farm fisherman who was a slave to the sea
Well, the sea will keep you honest, and the eleven men
who burned and drowned in the sea of last summer
of the last summer in Hades, were bound by the sea 
by the disease that stops my tongue.  Water, water,
 our need for it, our love of it
is all the element in which we drown
and the fact that one day we will return to it
and be absorbed into it 
is both our tragedy and our resurrection.
War is not the answer, water is.
The song of Modugno
of the man who begged Christ for a remedy to save him 
from his wicked padrone who beat him with his teeth worse than a dog's
the song of E Zezi, of the eleven men and women 
who burned in a fireworks plant
because that was the work that had been given them to do
and that was the work of their fathers, the work they surrendered to
or took pride in, what's the use, Christ on his cross
should be so happy with his nails,
the song of Modugno's about the swordfish plucked from the sea
whose last wish was to die with its lover.