Joan Stuart Ross  © 2005 All Rights Reserved

Diane Arbus

She submerged the prints in their chemical
baths, stirring, tonging them
sticky and dripping. Each one

a Salem witch made to float.
Float or drown? Sink
or swim? What swam to the surface

was the soul, always brighter
encased in mortified flesh.
Every Puritan knows this.

The longing for transcendence
is suffered more acutely
by the base.

At the Venice Biennale,
her pictures were covered in spit.

she sallied out,
her little black box
still getting all the action — more

interested in the world
than she was, tugging her by
her eyeball like a bull

by the ring through his nose.
In the end she could never prove
whether attention creates

a freak, or vice versa.
Filling that last bath,
easing in,

she was ready to find out.
Once, she threw a birthday party
for a lonely transvestite

in a Village walk-up, complete
with children’s paper hats
and streamers. But in the memorializing

portrait, in spite of her
threat of kinship — all we see
is his loneliness. Unalleviated. Still.



In another summer you collected maps, stolen from the feeders in the
park. You sat in cafes, blue and brown subway trains spread across
the table. Rivers baited the land in a hundred different directions,
for twenty dollars, under a transparency used to trace outlines. Fed up, you
took big filthy bites of whatever you were given to eat. Everything we had
been given on the risk of love and trust, floating over time zones and
borders. She belonged to that other city, where we placed our bets, kept
fueled and running like a getaway car. And where there would always be
someone traveling the long course through your body.


Justin Vicari
Copyright © 2005


Justin Vicari is the author of a fiction chapbook, In a Garden of Eden (Plan B Press, 2005), and the recent winner of poetry prizes from Third Coast and New Millennium Writings. His writing appears in Perigee, Senses of Cinema, Red Booth Review, Memorious, Slant, Black Rock & Sage, Poetry Motel, Aught, BlazeVOX, and other reviews. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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