Anthony DiMatteo


Dancers suddenly leave the studio floor
And out comes this guy from the back
Stumbling, dressed in a shaggy mat,
Dinosaur man lost at center floor
Bouncing a bit on his haunches
Like he’s got hot coals in his pocket,
And he places stones in a circle,
Little loaves of bread, perhaps, but when
He starts hopping around them,
I instantly bust out laughing.  A room full
Of people, one man dancing, one laughing,
Another two hundred in dead silence.  
I stop laughing and join the silence.
This is a tragedy, I see.  Yes,
The program says “potato dance,”
The famine in Ireland I think.
The man begins to pound his fist
On the potatoes, one by one
Smashing them down.  Now my daughter
Hears my suppressed laughter
I am trying so hard not to loose
The giddy spell bottled in me
Like a genie.  She wheezes one good,
Her laugh coming out of her nose,
And we break up.  A flood
Overcomes us, we are weeping
For the man, letting him feed
On tears of joy when nothing’s left.   
The stony people, though, make us stop,
Harrumphing and glaring in all directions.
Our tears dry in the fire of our shame.
Then the man bows as he leaves the floor,
Potato flakes in hand, mad grin on his face.

Anthony DiMatteo

Anthony DiMatteo, professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology, is the author of many articles on early modern poetry as well as the first translation into English of Natale Conti’s Mythologiae, a work on Greek and Roman myth that influenced Spenser, Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Paolo Veronese and Milton.  He has received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New York Council for the Humanities.  His poetry has been recently published by Exquisite Corpse and Penumbra.



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