The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Anthony DiPietro

Origin Myth


Gather, little ones—do you know the story
of your father’s body?
Picture a rutted cliff, marked where dynamite blasts
once cut away earth
to make highways. Now picture a scaffolding
pitched against that.
Sometimes it strays from the cliff, and that is
a dangerous day.
As your father fell, his legs twitched like the hind
legs of a hunting dog
in sleep, and then he came to rest, one leg
a sackful of pebbles.
Doctors inserted a TV antenna
wrapped with bicycle spokes
to help the bones regrow straight. And they tested
his head for dents: results
inconslusive. Surgeons cut open his chest
and implanted
a submarine in honor of his father,
sixty years a sheet
metal worker. The submarine had a motor
made of used lawnmower
parts and a crew sealed inside, shrunken sailors
with Morse code machines.
Only he heard their messages, and could
communicate back
by scratching his back vigorously against
tall structures: door frames,
lamp posts, the arch of a church. Back to this crew:
the First Mate was in charge
of dreams, where father once saw God’s finger
become his new spine.
Then the sailors said in their dot-dash language,
Your blood tastes like wine.
Father saw this was a test, and moved as if
to change the channel,
and that is when he learned the remote control
was sewn into his ribs
by his mother, forty years a tailor.




ANTHONY DiPIETRO is a New England native who worked for 12 years in nonprofit organizations on issues such as violence, abuse, and income inequality. Last year, he moved to Eastern Long Island and joined Stony Brook University as a candidate for an MFA in poetry. A graduate of Brown University with honors in Creative Writing, his poems have appeared online at here/there and The Woman Inc and in print at Talking River and Assaracus.



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