Archive for the Michael J. Arcangelini Category

THE COOK AFTER CLOSING (1989) by Michael J. Arcangelini

Posted in Michael J. Arcangelini with tags on January 28, 2021 by Scot


Once everything is broken down,
lights lowered, kitchen quiet,
he goes to the corner of the bar
where lost shadows gather,
commandeers his usual seat,
pulls out a pack of cigarettes.
He smells of grease and sweat.
Bartender Tom brings his bourbon,
they exchange a few words.
Someone tries to chat him up
but the cook is barely responsive,
until he gets a few drinks in him,
then he plugs old Motown
into the jukebox and babbles
to anyone pretending to listen.
If unapproached, he’ll sit quiet,
smoking, sifting through ghosts
and unrealized expectations,
until Tom shuts the place down.

Then he walks to his rented home.
A two-liter bottle of cheap whiskey
sits next to his easy chair waiting for
him and a tumbler full of ice cubes.
He watches whatever’s on cable,
chains smokes, lets his poisons
work their magic until he passes out.

He awakens three or four hours later,
ice melted, ashtray overflowing,
TV still the only light in the room,
the rude dawn has not yet arrived.
He gets fresh ice, starts over again.
The scent of saltwater mist from
Humboldt Bay, bittersweet in the air,
hides beneath the stench of cigarettes.
Sometimes he scribbles words
into a notebook, but mostly he just
kills his time until the next shift.

LOST AT SEA by Michael J. Arcangelini

Posted in Michael J. Arcangelini with tags on October 21, 2020 by Scot


The day that Jake, her commercial
fisherman fiancé, drowned, Connie came
in to work the dinner shift, as usual.
There were no wisecracks though and
she saved her smiles for the customers.
She handed her orders to me without
comment. Picked them up the same.
She shrugged off condolences,
dismissed offers of help, and
cried quietly in the store room when
she thought no one was around.

In the early morning hours
the small boat Jake crewed on,
too heavy with a good catch,
capsized in rough seas just off the bar.
The captain and the one other crewmember
survived. Jake’s body was never found.

That night, after her last table had been set,
Connie swept her tips into her purse,
without counting them, and left.

HOW THE HEART SPEAKS by Michael J. Arcangelini

Posted in Michael J. Arcangelini on November 15, 2019 by Scot


This odd sensation in my chest
like a cat stretching and yawning
emerging from a nap.

At other times a twitching,
a nervous tick acting up,
a single shiver, a tremble.

Or a swift flash of feeling
not quite a pain, but a thought
passed quickly through my body.

Is this it? Is my time up?
Has my heart finally decided
it has had enough and quit?

This is how it speaks to me,
clutching at things unsaid to
tell me something uncertain.


Posted in Michael J. Arcangelini with tags , on November 24, 2016 by Scot

Looking around the hall Bosch realized
this is where the men who are born from
the asses of his painted demons congregate –
he was trapped within the hell panel
of his own nightmare triptych and whatever
made him paint it had brought him here –
now he had to produce something for ArtForum
they were expecting a cover story
with illustrations, but he was frozen –
he looked to Bruegel for guidance but
Bruegel stood there, mouth hanging open,
wishing he still had some of that Cockaigne
to get him through this particular vision of hell

Then the presumptive candidate began to speak
and they both knew that all was lost
they would have to return their advances
and stumble back to New York City emptyhanded
no vision of hell either of them could conjure
would capture the scene laid out before them –
reality had outstripped imagination
and was circling in for the kill.