Dorianne Laux’s most recent collections are The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry and Facts about the Moon, winner of the Oregon Book Award. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke from BOA Editions. She teaches poetry in the MFA Program at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty for Pacific University's MFA Program. This is her fourth appearance in Linebreak.
“Abe Vigoda is no longer not dead.” –Thomas Dean, Facebook
First he was, then he wasn’t, now he is. Always
and forever. None of this Get back up and dust
those wings off, not like in The Godfather
when he’s told, “Can’t do it, Sally,” only to
show up a year later in The Don is Dead
and The Devil’s Daughter. Isn’t this just the way?
Everyone thinks we died when we’ve only
been languishing in a string of forgettable movies.
Tessio’s death was memorable for happening
quietly, off-screen. The horror of it
was the inevitability of it: the pageantry
of the six men surrounding him, pallbearers
shouldering him away in their solemn brown suits.
And isn’t that just the way? The worst
is not what comes, but what we can see coming,
the unfolding of the moment, whole lives
unspooled and slopped in a celluloid pool at our feet.
What kills us is Sal’s stoic desperation, the naked
dignity of his calm plea. We forget
his lack of faith, his weakness and betrayal.
We gaze into his sad Italian eyes, upon his long
Modigliani face, and we pity him the way
we pity Judas, the way we pity our own small
selfish selves, dying a little with each violence
we’ve committed until someone more ruthless
brings our suffering to an end.