James Capozzi / poet / USA


We Enter the Cycle at Night and Are Consumed by Fire


Night life.

Pitch black with two fingers

Of thick khaki foam, moderate lace on the glass

As the head fades.

Mulberry Street standing there unsanded under five inches of snow,

Contours muffled and more revealed.

People lose

Decades in this room-of-one’s-own, trauma-mongering,

Trafficking in dread shot through with sporadic, manic elation.

This red room’s static

Nothing as form of perfection, boring but moral

Enough to slow down the truth

So you can see it,

Consider it

Of actual durable use—this is the condition to which

All art aspires, thinking

Some poem about duplicity of light (the way it handles

A bell pepper’s shape or walks

Shin deep

Over ice), thinking a rhetoric

Of praise painted with designs of the floating world

(Like tattooed skin

Peeled back by time). Now snow another inch, drop seven degrees,

Freeze the whole thing over again.


Nel mezzo

Del cammin di nostra vita:

Pleasure to meet you sitting in a tartan coat

Looking very important and alone, like a present under the tree

Of a house I broke into.

Now I must depart

For class—

Tonight we’re painting apples,

A yellow dress modeled before a red wall’s rhombus,

Hat with grandiose plume.

This is a painting by Matisse. You are you,

Dancing in your room

Or wandering,

In your earlier career, Paris

Avec discman, into erotic encounters with cretins and drummers.

Pleasure to discover this.

Pleasure to take your hand in mine—block in

A spring field incubating asters or


Red Gatorade

Tilting in an open cup.

These materials of the human spirit. We create from them something

Which did not before exist—

Deepest blues, reddest reds, gaps in a reef where blind life

Stabs in every direction

For flesh

(Cilia pass it habitually toward the mouth).

This is the ice sea of Saturn now, fugitive caves

Are calling us inside

Their process: what enters will emerge, but changed.

Earth plows through

A billion

Tons of dust, two stars

Collide and detonate, falcons scan noble canyons

From shattered moonlit nests.

This is pleasure, to succumb to dramatic inevitability, be wracked

By headache weather, symmetry, eye-gouging pain.

To live with deer

On a golf course past Salisbury, float stone drunk

In a tub

Mouthing thin words, a sprawling conversation about ourselves

Fading on the farthest red rock in the sea, the last dying

Evening of this room on this earth.

James Capozzi


James Capozzi is the author of Country Album (Parlor Press), which won the New Measure Poetry Prize, and Devious Sentiments (Finishing Line Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Republic, and  The Iowa Review, and he's been an artist in residence at Benaco Arte, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. He lives in New Jersey, where he edits the Journal of New Jersey Poets.



Simon Beckmann