Never Been to Italy
From My Ultra Top-Secret and Personal Gratitude Diary
This piece is about 6 printed pages long.
It is copyright © David McGimpsey and Jacket magazine 2007.
In the future, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
will become so cheesy we will no longer
know sadness. In a calculated move
to get younger people more interested
in poems, Browning’s “Pippa Passes”
will be retitled “Whatevs.” And quite soon,
howevs, the one I’ll just call “She” will be
in Myrtle Beach, avoiding the sun.
Nearby the racks of wiffle balls, Speedos,
NASCAR towels and quality fake vomit,
nearby stands for funnel cakes and corn dogs,
by seaside pavillions showcasing bands
most people think broke up in eighties,
she will be indoors (AC to 11),
working on her novel. There will
be much less downloading Amy Winehouse
songs than before and far much less buying
new pants than most consider a normal
pants-buying regimen. In the future,
it will be determined that Lincoln
greatly suffered from restless leg syndrome.
We will learn open-face sandwiches
were discovered by Chopin. The future
will be particularly bright for those
who’ve invested in medicated socks.
Cigarettes will make a spectacular
post-cancer comeback and Phillip Morris
will produce a smoke which will last longer
than it takes Neptune to circle the sun,
or however long it takes Sting to have sex.
O Bright! Maybe before she finishes
her novel, all the world will discover
the true evil behind “Tom,” the generic
MySpace friend (whose hero is Nietzsche).
The pure evil of Tom; the pure evil.
With longer lives, warmer sun, the future,
full of happy pectoral muscles,
will see more exciting new combinations
of the words “Angelina” and “online.”
In the future there’ll be melon-colored
tombstones and loose-tooth meds which taste
twenty-six per cent less mediciney.
The future will feature some wise choices.
She wouldn’t think of having a long novel start
“The idiot’s drinking Schlitz Light again,”
because who would want to hear such things?
That doesn’t sound like a killer first line
(aren’t novels meant to have killer first lines?).
The Carolina sun-moments, coming, going,
will, I think, be of little allure to her
and if she does find some gamesome mood
she certainly packed enough swimwear.
The future will be full of shiny new books
and I promise to skim at least one of them.
Doesn’t Shania capture Leviathan
and convince it to play bass in her band?
Doesn’t Shania declaw the ghosts of bears
as they galumph through Ghost-bear land?
Shania stood up for you when you fell
into a four-to-five year long despair;
Shania thinks it’s nice but doesn’t mind
if you don’t notice how she wears her hair.
She’s waiting with you at your MRI,
she’s putting a blush of blue in the night sky.
Imagine, O sufferers, the great peace
which comes when Shania touches your head,
when she looks at you and says, “Take it easy,
Hoss, lie down without embarrassment.”
Never Been to Italy
Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, “Italy.”
Such lovers old are I and she:
So it always was, so shall ever be!”
— Robert Browning, De Gustibus
Open my liver and you will see
Graved inside of it, “Little Pee Dee,”
Such escapers of fate are I and my Pee Dee:
We spelled the end of our amor fati.
Open my stomach and you will see
O.J.’s Ford Bronco and Sweet Tits McGee;
Atop the tor-like crests o’er sublime seas
were nice sweater-vests and pastel hoodies.
Open my eyes and you will see
An old episode of Maude and diabetes:
Sugar-darkness and blood-clotted tea;
Losing all hope and sleeping through sweeps.
Open my mouth and you will see
The ashes from a butterscotch factory;
The smoke curled while I napped intently,
Disbelieving Dawson on Dawson’s Creek DVDs.
Open my skull and you will see
Something quite unlike Warren Beatty;
The Big Ethel Pavillon’s exhibit on unpretty
Takes up space and isn’t exactly free.
Open my knees and you will see
New lyrics to “It Had To Be Me”;
Written on ribbon and with crippling ink,
Note the Ottawa-style riffing on “rink stink.”
Open my neck and you will see
A man who died for McTurkey;
The plaque and the paste flavored like peas,
Tie a yellow requiescant in pace.
Open my esophagus and you will see
An amateur’s plagiarized soliloquies:
Act I is full of possums and posies
where Act V is all lost love and macaroni.
Open my muscarinic receptors and you will see
An abandoned draft of my autobiography:
Chapter One. The world knew him as Ghandi,
but to me he was just “Dennis” from Ft. Lee.
Open my spleen and you will see
The faculty at a little University;
The little posters and the little scenes,
The chair’s prologue “If it was up to me . . . “
Open my pineal glands and you will see
An ant in a hat singing “I’ve Gone Country”;
And even when he hits the Grand Ole Pineal Opry
The ant will never mention he ever knew me.
Open my wrist and you will see
The original cast of the original Rocky:
Burt Young makes Penne alla Gigi,
Burgess Meredith is Saint Francis of Assisi.
Open my lungs and you will see
The version of the novel I let no one see:
The character named Myrtle, the bout of TB,
Did I mention Burt Young and his recipes?
Open my trachea and you will see
Wasted performances from sea to sea:
Books unsold, festival I’m sorries,
Harsh reviews and brand new enemies.
Open my prostate and you will see
The quiet of a Super Bowl losing team:
The replayed fumbles, the calming cliches,
The fist in the wall while saying “I’m OK!”
Open my ankles and you will see
Sinews of lumber and bones of ice cream;
L’amour fait rien aux buffets chinoiseries
Quand j’attends a quelques prix.
Open my urethra and you will see
An unclaimed check from the CBC;
was it for an interview with Barbara Gowdy
or my script “The Fattest Kid of Degrassi”?
Open my left canine and you will see
My secret shrine to Caridee;
Just a photo from a magazine
And it may not even be Caridee.
Open my chin (any of them) and you will see
Why I’ve given up on ever being happy;
Not the Miserere of being old and ugly
Unless that means the existere of why me?
Open my big toenail and you will see
The simple plot arcs of my poetry:
Babe Ruth slugged it so Elvisy
As did Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie.
Open my kidneys and you will see
A man who will be dead before fifty.
Elvis sang his fate through puffy eyes,
But he knew he was saying goodbye.
Open my gums and you will see
A tired Elf named Lleweldoree:
Elfertainment can be smart and snappy
but Lleweldoree isn’t taken seriously.
Open my lymph nodes and you will see
A sweet fade which may have started in the 90s,
You know the variant formula oaf + TV?
It’s on the blackboard sans x-factoring.
Open my tympanic membrane and you will see
Batman at rest and Elvis at peace
Batgirl sated and Ann-Margret tamping her feet,
Can’t win ‘em all, sucks to be E.
From My Ultra Top-Secret and Personal Gratitude Diary
I like the way the birds fly —
esp. the ones that remind me of celebrities.
“Fly away oriole Donny Wahlberg —
there’s no joy here!”
I praise God for each sunrise
and for giving me the strength to learn
I could eat 17 tacos in a sitting.
Restaurant tacos. Texas and California.
The simple things: the smell of vanilla,
the cadence of a Baudelaire poem,
keeping one hand in my pocket so I can
give people the finger when they talk to me.
Dear Failures, do you like
your Atlanta Thrashers mittens?
Or is it time for cinnamon wine
and feeding the Carrie Underwood canaries?
David McGimpsey was born and raised in Montreal. A PhD in English Literature, he currently teaches creative writing at Concordia University. He is the author of four collections of poetry, a collection of short fiction and a critical monograph on the subject of baseball and American culture. He plays guitar and sings in the rock band Puggy Hammer and has performed as a stand-up comedian. His travel writings appear frequently in The Globe and Mail and he writes a regular column about sandwiches for EnRoute magazine.
Acknowledgments: “Summerland”, “Redemption”, From Sitcom (Coach House Books, 2007). “Never Been to Italy” and “From My Ultra Top-Secret and Personal Gratitude Diary” are previously unpublished.
The Internet address of this page is http://jacketmagazine.com/34/c-mcgimpsey.shtml