Tony Magistrale

Ode to a New Pair of Louboutin Boots

Savor their soft buttery weightlessness
to enchant even the most discerning fetishist,
their spanking out-of-the-box animal scent.
Gleaming jet-black stockings bearing invisible zippers
adhere the length of skyscraper legs to seal in size sevens.
Then, as an almost startling afterthought,
the fierce firings of both stilettos,
walking the length of a pencil thin tightrope—
strobes of perpendicular scissors
challenge the shine of puddles in a rain-filled night,
each step a resounding crack cherry-red syncopation
turning heads on anonymous sidewalks,
blood boot prints atop fresh snow
rising from beneath a sea of black,
double homicides that refuse to look back.
Straddling the line between
tres chic and dominatrix,
contrasting mixtures of hard & soft, like enameled nails
emerging from inside the night of a glove.

The Essence of Cool

He slouches against his motorcycle,
ripped muscle shirt and tight jeans,
the essence of cool,
might agree he shares something
in common with Brando and Dean
if only he understood what that means.
He hasn’t expended much energy
studying old movies or going to school;
he’s been busy refining
the essence of cool.
The neighbors shake their heads and wonder
when he’s likely to get on track,
make a commitment to some woman
who will make him come back
before the bars all close down,
find a job, settle down.
The honest ones secretly envy him, too,
his complete lack of tact,
his ability to travel anywhere
with his possessions in one sack.
Perhaps someday he’ll join them—
buy a place of his own, take medicine
for ulcers, bed by ten, kids to bemoan.
But tonight he’s a shadow,
more dream than a fact,
happy child wearing the body of a man
without regrets or urge to look back.

Cecil Beaton’s Photograph “Robe en Taffetas de Soie Devant une Peinture de Jackson Pollock”

Who and what are on display here?
When did great art submerge into a Vogue fashion shoot?

Or is Beaton’s photograph a statement of how Beauty
is enhanced by the inclusion of the right accessories?

The model’s sculpted white shoulders & blond head
join pink salmon-colored capillaries on bare canvas.

Couture dress, short gloves, & heeled pumps
the exact noir of Pollock’s permutations; she also brings color:

red lipstick & a pink satin flower attached to her dress;
the painting’s pulsating rose of a heart.

Parallels give way to projections: paint more animate
than breathing woman, whose job is to render herself

photographically still. Pollock’s lines & arcs send out
electric voltage, everything else

is a static pose. Art’s intimations: twisting
parabola and splatter drops in wild abandon,

excited by this living flesh inside their charged space,
backdrop for an awkward embrace,

black lightning flashing against white sky. Stare
long enough, there is a moment when the painting

slips out of the photograph, disappears from the room,
& her mascara streaks into tears.

© Tony Magistrale

Tony Magistrale is Professor of English at the University of Vermont. He is the author of three books of poetry: What She Says About Love (Bordighera Press, 2008), The Last Soldiers of Love (Literary Laundry, 2012), and the more recent Entanglements (Fomite, 2013).  His poems have appeared in The Harvard Review, Green Mountains Review, Slipstream, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among other places.

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