Scott Laudati

by Arthur Graham on November 8, 2017

Scott Laudati is the author of Play The Devil and Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair. His forthcoming book of poems, Bone House, will be published in early 2018. Visit him on instagram @scottlaudati


Goodnight Moon

the kids read Goodnight Moon to mom
before they went to sleep
and after the final goodnight mom realized
the children’s book she’d spent a year
writing would never be that good.
was her ex right? was she stupid?
the next morning she poured milk into
the kids bowls of frosted flakes
and then loaded up the minivan.
after the last one was dropped off for homeroom
mom waved at the crossing guard.
then she parked the car
walked to the pitcher’s mound
and lit herself on fire.
(a whole red box of diesel fuel
and a cigarette).
she went up like a wood barn
but they dragged her off in time
and now the other mothers
cup their hands together at her front door
and they share the blue pills
prescribed by Dr. Patel.
the kids got taken away and mom started
reading the New York Times again.
she never wore a bra anymore
and she traded the minivan for a Mini Cooper.
“do you miss the kids?” her friend asked.
mom took the orange pill bottle
between her index and thumb
and shook the pills back and forth like a maraca.
“not if i have enough of these”, she said.
they both laughed and tapped their
pills together with a “cheers”.
her ex was wrong.
mom wasn’t stupid,
she was free.


A Pretty Plague

this couch again.
waking up dry under plants surrendered.
a little thirsty still from
my walk home last night.
the long shift ahead of me but this time
it isn’t so bad.
the sous chef at Dirty French sees me
stealing oysters and shows me
how to slide a knife in and
open the oyster clean.
a warm night down Ludlow
but the sky is winter clear
and i can make out
a single star while i hike across two Villages
and Father Demo Square.
all the old jesters are out holding court,
clutching onto their corners
before Bank of America and
Dunkin Donuts put them on one-way buses
with no stops before
Albany or Troy.
the rat king outside of Katz’s
sits still in his wheel chair
waiting for scraps of pastrami.
Punjabi drivers plan sit-ins and
suicide at the basment deli on Houston.
the last bar light of the Bowery
flickers out like a blinking ghost
and i’m thinking,
“where am i? what was the point of this thing
that they sailed oceans for?”

won’t you meet me at Fanelli’s?
i want to hear your cello
grind in the Libra wind before
the final last call.
and Bob at the bar, the Serbian prince,
he hates you
he hates me too.
he loved this city when no firetrucks
came to the rescue.
but we came.
we saved the neighborhood
we can’t afford to drink in.
you’re about to make it special, though.
your guy’s coming and you’ve got a coupon.
the bags are $50 and the stuff
is alright.

cutting lines in the Fanelli’s bathroom on
a urinal 300 years old.
should we stop and appreciate the history here?
what did George Washington do on this porcelain?
a fork in the road for all of history.
he went left
and they saved the world.
i went the other way and
woke up with you
on that shitty Williamsburg sand,
covered in slime and
a cold wind against our ears.
and if i could go back
i wouldn’t change a thing because
this world always deserved a good story.
and so many
have fought in revolutions
but so few
have fallen in love.
and while i watched your lips
back away
from your teeth so a smile
could paint your face
i knew that nothing
they ever fought for
could mean more than this morning.


Lucky Us

i knew love once.
it was back before
my first execution,
before the hounds were released
and the hunt was easy for fresh blood.
back when i lay on my floor and
pictured a wild west
and if my mom asked me what i was doing
i’d say “listening to music”.
and she smiled at the simple world
that once spun so slow
an old record could
take up whole nights.

but not now.

not since i opened and closed
and forgot to buy postcards in
Havana and Minneapolis.
and if i promised to let people know
i was still alive
i didn’t remember or worry
because somewhere along the way I realized
no one really cares.
and the girls didn’t need
a prince on a horse
by the time they were ready to kiss
their father’s goodbye.
they just wanted what was there
and if it hadn’t gotten drunk and beaten them yet
it was worth saving.
inventing a history is easier than thinking about
what might have been.
no one needs love anyway
a new show premiers everynight at 8.


Just Like W. 4th At Midnight

i can get through the day
feeling lonely or nothing at all.
but lately
i’ve been standing on my fire escape
watching a dog who can’t catch its tail
and wondering why
underneath me
is beautiful anymore.
where’s the tall girl with spring freckles
who smiles at funerals?
with eyes like subway lights
that crawl around corners
long before the train arrives?
don’t i have enough left
to lose a little more?
it can be you.
the girl from melbourne
waking up alone right now.
is your ashtray still smoking?
do you have a story you wrote
at 16
when all you wanted was to get high
and fall in love?
i’ll bet those pages were the same as mine.
was it hard for you like it was for me
when you lost the handle
but time kept moving?
and do you
feel the same as me
when you look to the west?
did the boys of your hometown give
you a chance?
did they ask about your rising sign
or the things your brown
hair does under the streetlamps?
i’m jealous of that first face
and the lips you lost
forever on.
that’s the victory for some,
but i promise it was never mine.
what if we sailed to the coast
of my ancestors and let today
be just like yesterday?
would you want to share a lifetime of nothing?
just a white room
and an old dog
or a beach with no trap doors
where i can be held with no fear
and give you
that still lives in me.
it takes me longer to get where
the rest seem to start.
but that’s not your problem.
your fawned eyes will glow under
any moon so keep you hair long
and i’ll push it behind your ears.
and maybe in the morning
i’ll name your bellybutton
and we can smile like it’s the
first time
just turn the record over before
we say goodnight,
i want to hear you sing some more.

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