Fellini in Purgatory

Jean Valentine

He was shoveling sand
at the edge of the water, his heavy black glasses
glittered with rain:
"Don't you see how much like a woman I am?"
Shovel, shovel.
His throat was wrapped in water,
and the water flowered with milt.
Shoveler, are you eating the earth?
Earth eating you?
Teach me
what I have to have
to live in this country.
And he, as calm as calm, though he was dead:
"Oh,—milt,—and we're all of us milt."
From Door in the Mountain. Copyright © 2004 by Jean Valentine. Reprinted with permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Poems by This Author

Annunciation by Jean Valentine
I saw my soul become flesh
Door in the Mountain by Jean Valentine
Eleventh Brother by Jean Valentine
one arm still a swan's wing
Father Lynch Returns from the Dead by Jean Valentine
There's one day a year
Friend by Jean Valentine
Friend I need your hand every morning
Friend, by Jean Valentine
You came in a dream, yesterday
Ghost Elephants by Jean Valentine
In the elephant field
Hospital: strange lights by Jean Valentine
I needed a friend but
I have lived in your face by Jean Valentine
I have lived in your face
La Chalupa, the Boat by Jean Valentine
I am twenty
Red Cloth by Jean Valentine
Red cloth
Susan's Photograph by Jean Valentine
The Branches by Jean Valentine
The branches looked first like tepees
To the Black Madonna of Chartres by Jean Valentine
Friend or no friend

Further Reading

Related Poems
by Peter Streckfus
Politics and Patriotism
Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg
by Robert Creeley
by Claude McKay
by James Monroe Whitfield
American History
by Michael S. Harper
American Names
by Stephen Vincent Benét
Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da
Dear George Bush
by Kristin Prevallet
December 2, 2002
by Juliana Spahr
Delicate Cluster
by Walt Whitman
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Election Day, November, 1884
by Walt Whitman
Election Year
by Donald Revell
Exquisite Candidate
by Denise Duhamel
Exquisite Politics
by Denise Duhamel
Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
by Carl Sandburg
How We Did It
by Muriel Rukeyser
I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes
In a Country
by Larry Levis
it: a user’s guide
by Evie Shockley
Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes
Modern Declaration
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds
by Eleanor Lerman
by David Baker
Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander
Thanksgiving Letter from Harry
by Carl Dennis
The Condoleezza Suite [Excerpt]
by Nikky Finney
The Throats of Guantánamo
by Katie Ford
by Walt Whitman
To Roosevelt
by Rubén Darío