When an American President Took Office, an Italian Hotel Was Destroyed

When I asked Ma what Kenny Rogers meant
when he sang, The best that you can hope for
is to die in your sleep, she just said,
“Because you don’t feel anything.”
I was five, riding with her and Poppie
in his leased Oldsmobile. He conserved
sticks of gum by tearing them in half,

wrapper and all. Four earthquakes are the trigger
for snowy rubble cascading down
the hotel’s stairway, around white pillars
like current around a mid-river tree.
Pummeled by a meter of snow thousands
of miles away, my nerves are wiggy.
We are advised to multiply efforts,

and work to reach trapped people both here
and in the neighboring hamlets,
but We have been abandoned by everyone
is the new top download on iTunes.
Power knocked out cuts both ways: block this,
isolate that, grab here, dismiss there.
Because you don’t feel anything, skylights crack

beneath the weight of above. Hey—lease this.
If I die in my sleep, or my children
wide awake, snowfall will tremor on,
with only roof peaks and one row of windows
visible. Indivisible. Conserve
your mintiest gum, fair citizens, lest
your halls too are gutted by cascades of whiteness.

 

Andy Fogle is the author of Across from Now, and six chapbooks of poetry. Other poems, co-translations, and a variety of nonfiction have appeared in Blackbird, Best New Poets 2018, Gargoyle, Image, Parks and Points, and elsewhere. He was born in Norfolk, grew up in Virginia Beach, lived for 11 years in the DC area, and now lives in upstate NY, teaching high school.