February 2007

Victor Peter Camillor


Victor Peter Camillo is a mathematics professor at the University of Iowa. Victor and his wife Barbara are working on a book about travel to the strange and odd places in Iowa. Some recent work has appeared in Animus and The Iowa Review.

Jerry Said    

"If I die alone who will bring my last words to my children?"
This was only by example, and Jerry Peck said other stuff
While he smoked and blew his life against a cold window.

And I, spending most of my time making love to the weather,
Later thought about the folks in brown and their own smoke
And suffering behind us, and the thin strong, intellectual
Girl friend of another friend, who said, when I got my beer,
"Vic, you're not a barfly. What are you doing here?"
Which compelled me to kiss her and smile to her eyes
Because the moon was getting less full,
Or Jerry was full of the light of being alone.

Jerry and I, we're going to Cortland, New York
Some far-away or near day, by air, as molecules
If we die, by car otherwise.  
There, Jerry will show me the streets
Down which he was born onto middle age,
If he got that far into knowing just a bit,
If fifty-four is more than only a couple of numbers,
One of which is one less than the other.

Anyway, I'm drifting into the desert of my mind
The way I do sometimes
Because I have a home and a white back porch with a couch
And a quarter-century marriage
Like a smooth interesting tumbling stream
That comes from everywhere and never dies into any sea.

I've got human water to sit beside
And a bird feeder outside that you can see from my kitchen.
Birds come to my river and the waters give them food,
They stay in a high sheltered place
Made out of second-hand store abstractions
Of metal and glass
That hide them from owls and prowling cats.

But, Jerry, he has a small shared apartment home,
And a girlfriend on a hill, over a park,
Now filled with brown grass and a Spring flood.
He has a few friends who love him but don't understand Mexico,
That is the South, where Jerry goes

Because Spanish is a language for speaking,
For making human wholes out of parts, out of markets,
Guitars, work, families, old trucks, and soccer balls.

And Jerry understands how the soccer balls
Run over Aztec sacrifices, apologizing, from foot to foot,
Making a game well played, only as the ball is shared,
How an anonymous mid-field touch that leads to a goal
Is what the shouting lovers of sport talk about
When they are quiet, and remember what they noticed.

The smoke swirled between the limbs of the neon beer signs.
We read Hayden Caruth because everywhere is church.
And here the altar was a shelf where we placed
Our beer and our spirits themselves,
Only we don't believe in any of that,
Just the fact of the immediacy of personal hell.

Jerry knows nobody owns the sun in Mexico.

See the cold business lights go on across the street,
Repeat, over and over,
How the beautiful walking women and their souls
Are so remote in their colorful, insulating, isolating coats.



Victor Peter Camillor: Poetry
Copyright ©2007 The Cortland Review Issue 34The Cortland Review