Dear John Ashbery

Everything is behind a chain linked fence and I think I might have tennis elbow. I’ve trained for this my whole life and now here we are with no words in the night sky. They fly to the moon to recharge, before dusk, especially in December. Christmas carolers are practicing Jingo Bells in their driveways and the clouds are about to pop. Glitter will get everywhere, but hopefully not in our exhaust pipes. I can see this beautiful mess when I close my eyes and listen to you reading on the other side of the tulips. I didn’t think your voice would get through, but the ground is still soft. Now that I am getting to know your absence it’s easier to describe the texture of sound, real or imagined. It’s like holding the moon in one hand and memorizing it with the other. Haven’t you responded to the moon before you served it on a fat slice of wheat bread? (Here’s the recipe: heat du jour, filtered water, cultured wheat, sea salt, whole grain einkorn.)
No one wants to eat a dead moon with fingerprints all over it while the moral dilemmas are left unattended. I guess darkness really does fall—out of windows—like a wet sponge. Success is screwy these days. Sponges shaped like moons come to life in the kitchen sink and there’s no telling how many there are when the tide is low. I’ve been washing the dishes for the last nine months resisting y-op-est-op-er-op-d-op-ay. I’ll tell you what’s out on a limb… Eileen’s refrigerator from 1969 in Sunny Side Queens. But rather than being a hyperbole, moons are running all over the streets and nobody is chasing them. 
The language that follows is up for grabs, yet there’s a sense of it never actually being in someone’s mouth or eye or nose. And a few species of sponges that live in food-poor environments have evolved into carnivores that prey on the upper west side. All the while, natural sponges on a rope are on sale at the Home Depot and make for great stocking stuffers. What I mean to say… it’s funny how the moon reaches into the kitchen. I almost dropped it down the drain.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Nicole Santalucia is the author of The Book of Dirt (NYQ Books), Spoiled Meat (Headmistress Press), and Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press). She is a recipient of the Charlotte Mew Chapbook Prize and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Best American Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus, The Boiler Journal, TINGE Magazine, as well as other places. She teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and has taught poetry workshops in the Cumberland County Prison, Shippensburg Public Library, Boys & Girls Club, and nursing homes.

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