Things Not to Write

There are those in the family,
the neighborhood, who don’t want
to hear such things. It’s old news,
so long ago
, they say. But if
there is some truth we mustn’t
write, how will we be read?

On the running boards
of Grandparents’ wedding car
to the Cleveland church and from,
two gunmen rode, eyes small.
Family, friends flung rice
and wishes at burly backs,

no necks, big hats. Waiting
in a country train station while
wife and children slept
the night away on wood benches,
a father paced with loaded pistol.
It’s what a father did—heels

measuring bricks. Cousin Sammy,
fastidious tailor, when a bomb
blew away his porch one night,
fell headlong onto death’s
rag heap, too frightened
to wake. I learned early on—

church, family table, playground—
that life can bring gifts
you must be wary of, writhe
of snake, rank shadow, tongue
of flame; that it’s necessary
to separate the business

we do in the day and night;
that it’s possible to forgive
but not forget; that vendetta
is the grandest opera;
that if you can’t imagine a worse thing,
it could happen to you.

About David Citino:
David Citino is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, most recently The News and Other Poems (University of Notre Dame Press) and The Book of Appassionata: Collected Poems and The Invention of Secrecy (both from Ohio State University Press). Paperwork (Kent State University Press), a collection of essays, was published in 2004. He is contributing editor of The Eye of Poetry: Six Views of the Art and Craft of Poetry (Oxford), and teaches at Ohio State, where he is Poet Laureate of the University.