Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ron Paul Salutsky's Romeo Bones

Steel Toe Books is one of the best small presses around.  Since 2003, publisher and oet Tom Hunley has been lovingly producing a series of books showcasing a number of excellent writers.

He's brought out books by poets like Mary Biddinger, Jeannine Hall Galley, Allison Joseph, and Michael Meyerhofer.  (And I'm happy to say Steel Toe publishes my book Lightning and Ashes.)

Last year, Steel Toe published a first book by a young Polish American poet, Ron Salutsky.

What I like about his poetry is the gift he has for opening up a moment to the complex mash-up of sorrows and joys, fears and wonderings that exist in it.  For me, that's the gift that all true poets share.

Here are a couple of Ron Salutsky's poems, the title poem "Romeo Bones" and "In Praise of Kool Filter Kings."


Allergies today are puffed up
with caterpillar bones, old loves
and arbor tidings, pushed
by a humid wind,
moisture as fleeting as grief
for the death of second cousin Emma,
whom you used to play Lawn Darts
with on sunny summer holidays
when the family gathered
and gawked at the grill, as they do
now, talking of investments
in appetite, the politics
of meteorology, the state
of affairs of beer, the
demise of demise now
that everything's okay.
It's not okay you want to say,
and you do say, but you're
the youngest so no one listens.
Emma hears you and laughs
through the smoke, slings
a Lawn Dart so close
to your feet your toes tingle
with the expectation of pain
and the utter desire
for utter attention. Romeo Bones,
Romeo Bones
, she says
and you laugh but you have
no idea why. Pretty soon,
everyone's laughing and you don't
know why, but you laugh,
pretend to be in on the joke,
in on the whole thing, the punch line
missed, the world you're afraid
might be getting away
from you, the parents
who might not be your own,
the sky that might not really
be blue, the blue that might
not really be blue, the grassy
rug that might one day be
pulled out from under
your tiny feet.


If the sea had skin
you could roll it up over Florida

like a condom, prevent what you only
in the comfort of others’ mishaps call

the spread of Florida. And what’s so wrong
with Florida, then? There’s none

more existential crisis than 6:30 pm in Florida,
and you need not have driven there drunk

the night before, parked on the street
outside the Daytona Beach YMCA, rusty harmonica

on the dashboard and God knows what
looks like donut glaze on the jeans you cut

into jean shorts with a buck knife
just south of Valdosta. We’ve come to the shore,

by God, so we’ve conquered the shore,
quoth you, for puking-on

is 51% of ownership in business-friendly
Florida. The sea is not indifferent,

but rather calms you roaring in your ear.
There’s still half a tank of gas

and an unopened pack of menthols
you must have bought at a Gate

in St. Cloud, now what? You gave
a homeless girl four menthols

and a five-spot and she swore
she’d spend it on bean burritos

and she didn’t even cheapen the deal
by proffering a blowjob. The liquor stores

here never close because it’s the beach
and you know by the way your eyeballs burn

the sun will come up soon and you feel you should pray
but you don’t know what to pray to

and a blue crane perched on the arm
of a lifeguard chair somehow reminds you

there’s love in the world. Now what?


Romeo Bones is available from Steel Toe Books and Amazon.  Just click on either.

You can find out more about Ron Salutsky at his website.  Just click here.