valigia vintage

A Special Case
a prose poem by Louis Gallo

Blink. Blink. Blink. I blink my eyes. Over and over, little windows. If I hold my head back, I see Lizard hanging from the ceiling. They put me on this porch. Blink. Hello, Lizard. I will catch you and watch your pink throat puff up like cotton candy. You aren’t afraid of me. Red Bean is a member of the Legume family. Red Bean Legume. Sal Paretti. Marie Paretti. Johnny Young. Sandy Young. The cousins. I know their names. They live around the corner. They call me Pinhead. Mommy told Telephone I came out of the womb wrong. hey clamped my head with pliers. Blink. Hello, Telephone. Who are you now? My aunt Rosalie. I can’t go anywhere, not to the park or school or the lake. I don’t walk right, Mommy says, and can’t read or write. I can’t learn anything like continents or streets or words. Pliers squeezed my brains. Sofia is the capitol of Bulgaria. I make horrible sounds that scare people. Animal sounds. Lizard doesn’t say anything so I don’t say anything. Lizard tells me secrets. So do Mosquito Hawk and Rat and Hummingbird. And Potato, Artichoke and Kumquat. Wood whispers to me. And Pewter Tankard from great grandmaw. Nails hold the house together. Air goes up, up, up. Moon comes down. Sometimes Moon is a fingernail. Rain is wet. I like rain music. Electricity is the flow of electrons from one pole to another. Electrons have negative charges. What is the capitol of Mars? Mom tells Telephone I’m hopeless. Dad drove away in a car named Studebaker and never came back. He went to Baton Rouge, capitol of Louisiana. Because of me, Mom tells Telephone. I don’t remember him except his smell, which lingers. Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic. It burns your eyes. Noun is the name of a person, place or thing. I am a noun. Mom cries and cries and cries. Cry is a verb. She doesn’t hear Lizard say hello. She doesn’t see Moon. She sits in the dark room. When I blink too much, she tells me to stop, it looks ugly. Ugly is an adjective. I have a name but it’s secret. Sal, Marie, Johnny and Sandy call me Pinhead. They don’t know my name. If they did, they would say hello, Name. They’re not bad like the ones who throw rocks and call me Vegetable. Rocks belong to the Mineral family. Rocks say they are sorry to hurt me. All I do is rock on the swing. Rock is a verb. When I go inside I sit on the sofa. The sofa is brown. I like Sofa. It tickles me. Then I sleep and dream about Swing. I dream I swing into the sky and meet Angels. Angels have no bodies. Angels tell me hello. I do not blink. Sal went to Kindergarten today. Poor Sal. Lucky Sal. I will never go to Kindergarten because I’m hopeless. Lizard teaches me, Moon teaches, Sofa teaches. Spider too. I thank them. I love them. I am not afraid of me. I am not afraid of anything. Distance equals rate times time. Sometimes I see Sal walking home from school right behind Judy France. Judy has the name of a country. The capitol of France is Paris. Sal pants after Paris. Judy is so pretty I kiss her in my dreams. And she kisses me back. Dream loves me. Dream makes me better. Kindergarten is a dream of light. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Except me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Louis Gallo was born and raised in New Orleans and now lives in Virginia and teaches at Radford University. He has published widely, including Rattle, Glimmer Train, New Orleans Review, Southern Literary Review, and Southern Quarterly. He is founding editor of the now defunct  Barataria Review.