Andrew Periale

Puppets in Paradise

in sacred grove, vines wind & weave space
into wind-harps as our public gathers—young fathers
in wispy beards, fine corn-silk hair of daughters, sons
who bound like baby goats while mothers circle
on patches of soft grass, & cackle, one wigged
after chemo, another’s hair chopped short & hennaed
after her divorce, another with babe asleep at the nipple,

the elders alone or in pairs step with care over roots,
smile at the children, know the Latin names of perennials,
ears pricking up at the moan of a flute on the breeze:
still they come—a cluster around the old potting shed,
covey that loiters in pocket of broom and rush,
coven covertly encircling Ashtaroth’s temple:

at last!—the priests & their puppets arrive:
clowning or chanting, shrieking like monkeys,
or monks in a state of grace, faces impassive
while tigers of papier-mâché or a naughty bear tricks them:
this is the way, the true church: to gather together,
near old oak & cedar, hear stories & see ourselves,
hug & break bread & then go away healed…

afterward, puppeteers gather, share food & drink—
masks off they look almost normal, an outsider
won’t understand that they carry the weight of our history
in their thin fingers, their voices that boom and squeak,
listening, always, for god in the vast godless distances…

Loved Enough

Dog never thinks he’s loved enough
big ol’ pink tongue hung like bait on fishhook

eyebrows raised in the middle trying hard to understand,
flinching as if expecting to be hit.

(He has never been hit, but still carries
wolf-being-tamed in his muscles;

still useful, like our fight-or-flight
and how far from the jungle, really?)

Dog knows the rules without asking;
bares his throat to longer tooth, louder growl.

Big fan of Balzac—his own or another’s—
always flying his flag out the truck window

this patriot with no country but the blanket
in front of the woodstove, the dream of rabbit.


Copyright  ©  2014 Andrew Periale


Andrew Periale is an Emmy-nominated artist, and has toured throughout the US as an actor and puppeteer. He has been the editor of Puppetry International magazine for 27years and has written many plays. His poetry has appeared in Light Quarterly, Yellow Medicine Review, Entelechy International, etc., and a collection of his poetry is due out from Oyster River Press soon. A member of City Hall Poets (Portsmouth, NH), he also served for four years as the Poet Laureate of Rochester, NH. He lives in the woods with a slender wife and two fat cats.