Matthew F. Amati

this is a
white knuckle chapbook


copyright 2016 by Matthew F. Amati 

for white knuckle: Howie Good and Dale Wisely

design and cover image, "Downtown Diving,"

by DWisely

The Water Tastes Like Centipedes and the World’s About to End

Contents

Author’s Statement

The Water Tastes like Centipedes and the World’s About to End

Sweater! 

The Naval Code

Julie’s Catalogue

Eye of Corn, Jaw of Hay

El Marmalade

What He Did With the Money

Mostly Dust Mites

Raining

Contents of the Creator’s Junk Drawer

Unsettling the Duchess

Your Face Came Off, But We Put It Back

The Autobiography

Matthew F. Amati

 

 

 

 

Author’s Statement

 

I don’t know how other people do it, but this is my formula: Let your eyebrows get real bushy. Make a cup of hot tar. Dump it in the ficus pot. Ascertain the orbit of the Sun, then plot a counter-orbit using Kepler’s Inverse Gas Formula. If you have children, give them away to cruel wardens. If you have pets, sell them for meat.  If you have elderly parents, panic as circumstances permit. Count the oxygen that plops to the floor. Learn the language of rabbits; use it to speak to squirrels. Fill every suitcase in the house with soap suds and speak bitter prayers. Fill your thoughts with insurance matters, hymns, methods for cleaning bricks. Call your friends and say "I Have Rejoined the Living," and brace yourself when they say "The Living? Who Are They?"

 

 

Matthew F. Amati

 

The Water Tastes like Centipedes and the World’s About to End

The water tastes like centipedes and the world’s about to end. There’s yellow weather coming, there’s sailors singing about sailing. I’ll fight giant reptiles, I’ll dig to the Indian Sea with a spork, but I won’t pitch dirt on red afternoons for mirror glasses and a missing chin. I spar with pirates when I want to. I got an old black book, I got a Ford van, and I’m talking Wisconsin but thinking California, or maybe Japan, Mongolia, or Prester John’s Kingdom. I read it in a thrift-store Catechism: somewhere there’s gold in the streets, somewhere the leprechauns don’t laugh at you down by the curbstones, somewhere the vultures are calm as shaving brushes, and they leave your restless corpse alone. 

Matthew F. Amati

 

Sweater

Eaten by baboons! And so young! How magical was incandescent April with its scolding baobabs and batter-fried cherubs chanting madrigals in the high voltage grids! The pot-au-feu smacked of belt-feed oil, the sunset was brown as a fungal pit. Life is pain, love is agony, but forever we will have our half-buried trowels, our dried scabs, our wallpaper. Come outdoors with me, sad statue. See high up into the universe! It was no sullen red god who created these amazing deals on summer scarf fashions. Live or die, it don’t matter anymore.

Matthew F. Amati

 

The Naval Code

Disobeying the Captain will get you a flogging. Failing to spear mermaids with your soup-spoon will merit you a flogging. Cannibalism on any day except during Lent, a flogging. Lingering on the island of ambulatory clitorises for purposes other than researching The Origin of Species will put you in danger of the brig. Drinking seawater will turn you into a cormorant with human eyes. Don't molest the skeletons who are swabbing the deck; they can flash lightning out of their empty jaws.

Matthew F. Amati

 

Julie’s Catalogue

Julie misses her mother. Her fish. Hair has begun to sprout along her forearm. On her eye. She has got a small stone lodged between her left toe and her cerebrum. Screams of orphans in the night. Toads. Upset by television. Broken glass in culvert. Man in culvert. Carson City. Loss of favorite mug. Teddy bear. Virginity. Cloud of helpful smoke. The Moon. Bones sing from the graveyard. Potted plant with unpleasant tendril. Familiar faces. Streaks of sunlight through cracks in root cellar. Child with burned face. Child with viola. Oozing egg yolk. Ad for headache medicine (the one with the creepy grandmother.) Helpless, and the well is very deep...

Matthew F. Amati

 

Eye of Corn, Jaw of Hay

Columns of uniforms march past my window. The pheasant almondine bursts into flame on my serving tray. The Andalusian diplomat waggles his mustache and prays for the motherland. There are poems and speeches around the table, half-remembered snatches of Robert Burns, Biblical homilies, curses, oaths, imprecations. There’s a tinkle of broken glass, and a brick lands in the pie. A note tied around the brick reads “The fiends will steal your horses.” Outside, a fire hydrant sprays water higher than Old Faithful. One of the guests, a sullen old Franciscan, pulls coins from his nose. Our children have departed, the leopards have vanished from the fens, and the sun has failed to rise for the third year in a row.

Matthew F. Amati

 

El Marmalade

The statue of Tolstoy is cracked. The nose is broken off. We suspect the statue of Chuck Palahniuk broke it. Now we are going to the napkin store. We need a large number of napkins. On the way we see a tired sailor sleeping in a manhole. He is dreaming of Shreveport and the items one might purchase in Shreveport.  My wig crept down around my ears, my beard was on fire, I saw illusions of weeping mailmen, open doors, clouds, hopelessly snarled Parcheesi games where everyone has forgotten whose turn it is and which player has the blue pieces. It’s good to get home to Mother in her warm house. Her table’s set with immaculate linen, gleaming pewter. Everyone's hungry, and the only thing on the menu is my shriveled heart.

Matthew F. Amati

 

What He Did With the Money

He took the baths in Atlantic City. He bought a private submarine. He bent others to his will. Cigarillos. Car-polishing cloths to polish the car with. He remodeled his shed. He got rid of his dog and got a better dog that others were more likely to approve of. Organic milk.  Brocade shower curtain. iPhone (emerald). He remodeled his veranda. He bought a second home in Redondo Beach, a third home in Great Neck, a fourth in Tashkent. He invested in teleportation. A muscle car. A hat that was superior to other hats. He bought influence. He couldn’t buy love, but then he found a way to buy it. He remodeled the Taj Mahal in a 70’s look. He bought your loyalty. Nicer napkin rings. A publishing concern. The Mayo Clinic. Leisure, to read the poems of Paul Valery and masturbate. Bolivia. The Strong Nuclear Force. The magnificence of a sunset. Extra pins. Dance lessons. Figs.

A feeling of emptiness. More figs, to fill the emptiness up.

Matthew F. Amati

 

Mostly Dust Mites

Efficiently separated from my legs. Pie pan with teeth. Path lined with oleanders, leads to dragon’s maw. I saw your keys, the cybernaut had them. I’ll have the Cockatoo McNuggets. Change the channel. Topology of consciousness unveiled. An inverse torus laundered exponentially in Becquerel Space. O plaster heads of cockerels, paling in the moonlight! Vajazzled via phosphorescent recursions! 

Matthew F. Amati

 

Raining

Her brother discovered new permutations on being insane, these being: outsane, extrasane, intersane, perisane, aposane, heliosane, iSane, megasane, and insanitary.

He drew cats. Cats drew him. 

Matthew F. Amati

 

Contents of the Creator’s
Junk Drawer

Wires, mountaintops, watch-face, bones (bones belong to: pterodactyl, panda, axolotl, elephant shrew, the emperor Maximian) fermions, popcorn kernels, 3mm hex wrench, gum wrapper, nails (assorted), autumn, gravel, Tasmania, nail file, extra three commandments that didn’t make the final cut, matches, doorknob parts, baas-relief of Baal (chipped), Phillips screwdriver, lead flux, small jar of wrath, triple-A battery (expired), Gideon Bible (angry scribbles in the margins), copy of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, Kleenex, spoon, ball-point pens, Scorpions: Best of Rockers & Ballads cassette, constellation of Libra, small bubble-level, bullet that killed James Garfield, Tiger Balm, plutonium, Magic The Gathering deck (incomplete), rubber duck (squeaks when you squeeze it), rubber Ezekiel (prophesies when you squeeze it), comb, marbles, comet, unicorn horn, Roman coins, cool rock found on beach, Groucho glasses, crow-egg, you. (I'm sure I used to be in there somewhere but I can't be found.) 

Matthew F. Amati

 

Unsettling the Duchess

The wan duchess hears something different in the moaning of the sea. She knows the Duke of Rottenham will soon arrive in his painted ship. She leans out her tower window and begins to grow out her luxuriant golden pubic hair. Children in the rude town below feel it brush their heads in the breeze. They tell their mothers that the wind tickles their ears. Their mothers tell them faeries are looking after them. One mother shivers and burns the roast.

Matthew F. Amati  

 

Your Face Came Off,

But We Put It Back

Mosquitoes are not real. Only you can see them. Where Cheops stacked his stones, Ramesses stashed his bones. There’s dust in the sea and the desert’s flooded. I climbed a tree to get away from bears, but them fuckers can fly. I drank a cup of regret, and quickly downed a chaser of who-gives-a-shit. The corpses of seven zebras, drained and dressed. Circle of life: when a goose gets old, it shrinks way down, then it spins an eggshell around itself, and emerges as a beautiful baby goose. I’m clairvoyant, but also I’m constantly mistaken.

Matthew F. Amati  

 

The Autobiography

I was born in an ash can; my mother was a raven, my father was a jar of black grease. I wandered the flat parts of the world. I drove my cart and plough over the bones of the dead. I kept my paintbrushes in a can of Savienne coffee, my pistol in the cavity of a dwarf. I fell in love with a train wreck, but married a smear of blood on an asylum wall. My briefcase contained nothing but sea-foam. Often you could see me at the office pretending to murder and create. Every morning I caught the 5:15 swan to Tartarus. I lived in a tower on an island in a swamp next to a bog surrounded by desert at the foot of the mountains hard upon the sea. Every evening at seven the balloons would come. My sickness came upon me in the form of chattering bees. The room clouded around me; there were children singing in the cupola. I looked at the snorting water. The colors of the sky: orange, blue, crimson, gamboge, magenta, armchair, papoose, and viola. Goodbye, my friends, I’ll remember you to the laws of physics.

Matthew F. Amati  

 

Matthew F Amati

was born in Chicago. He lives by a lake and plays the banjo. 

 

prose poetry for the people