Life in the Second Circle by Michael Cantor

Life in the Second Circle

I live on a beach with a woman who hates pigeons.
This is not the piazza di
popoli she yells, pegging salt-swept stones

at them: I share a house with Anna Magnani – she
emerged sad-eyed, years back, from an out-of-date
old film cassette, talking too much, absurdly

big red mouth bursting with kisses: all that first night
we loved and laughed and spoke of life, and she devoured
my grilled squab putanesca with a whore’s bold appetite.

We live in cinematic garlic-spatteredness, my hard-
life love and I, with recondite Fellini dreams
and black-and-white De Sica screens – the outside world

can’t reach this beach. They all are pigeons, Anna screams
Their asses spread, they flap their wings, their shit is everywhere.
We tumble to the kitchen floor; make love amidst tomato streams.

by Michael Cantor

Editor’s Note: This poem’s voice is dominated not by the narrator, but by the narrator’s lover. The drama is a shocking delight.

The Sculptor, Dead at Age 34, and Her College Admirer by Michael Cantor

The Sculptor, Dead at Age 34, and Her College Admirer

Beautiful and dark
with a vague foreign accent,
she never looked at me.

I joined a literary group to meet her
and passed around my bullfight poem
which was all lower case,
with the perfect last line
about mister death.

She said it was derivative,
and for three or four days
I thought that was a compliment.

Her rope sculptures hang
in the Whitney and the Tate.
An obituary said
she loathed being called
beautiful.

by Michael Cantor

Editor’s Note: The narrator gets the last laugh in the last line… or does he instead suffer from ego? Regardless, the careful enjambment and repetition of ‘beautiful’ serve this poem well.