I don’t fully understand the associative leaps in “A Poverty,” but since it’s dedicated to Raymond Queneau, co-founder of OuLiPo, I’m almost certain it was composed procedurally. What I’m about to say might be sacrilege to hardcore Oulipians who believe that the writing resulting from imposing elaborate constraints on yourself needs to justify the rules you’ve chosen to follow, but I particularly appreciate being in the dark as to what constraints generated the poem. It’s as if James Capozzi had made poverty vows and therefore deprived himself of the satisfaction he might derive from one-upmanship. I’m taken with the poem’s minimal scale, with the makeshift and almost rickety quality of its composition. The poem is barely there, and my understanding of it is, itself, pocked.
My kingdom for a horsenose or hamhock
The port for the chosen
And illumined boys
With their pigs’ hearts
Wrapt in feuds and newsprint
It is their scabby shamming in grease
It is their exposed light raises you
It is the broken water bathes you
All for you, the pocked dance
A pocked life
James Capozzi lives in Binghamton, NY. His poems are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, New Orleans Review, and Cream City Review.
Mónica de la Torre is the Senior Editor for BOMB Magazine.