LA | NY A Special Edition of The East Village

Paul Vangelisti


Let me introduce the Gilberts of winter
insisting after coffee I wouldn't understand
who smile and most politely call for the check
while finishing their little story of sailing up the Nile
after forlorn departures from Vienna and Budapest,
not to mention a chilly Istanbul almost bereft of caviar.
Take the pencil-thin moustache deleted this morning,
fresh gothic brows for the winter afternoons of Cairo,
their accents nearly impossible to place
amid the sheen of purple and crimson velours
these drear nights when talk of Duveen or Tesori
lingers at table like a dormant Havana.
You know it can only mean something
if the vague insults are forgotten by morning
along with the defeated moustache or lace collar,
if the name of the dead boy is identical
to a street down the block from that quaint city hall
where a movie about psychics may be shot next summer.
So now it's just a matter of getting it down quicker
telling the popular from what only seems inspired,
the bang and the burp and the burr under the saddle,
all the little voices left over since childhood
was imprinted in comic strips, in cartoon exile
of sleepy orange orange trees and flat hippopotami,
natives native to baggy pants and losing cigars.
Who are you, you say, to ask whodunit
to question the confidence of the Gilberts
to listen for the anger behind their dexterity
no matter the pleasure or how far they've come.
The Gilberts are always waiting traveling smoking
ordering another cognac champagne martini
a salad nicoise just before dinner
they don't have the least intention of eating.