James D’Agostino

Two poems from James D’Agostino’s The Goldfinch Caution Tapes

followed by a note on the author

Last Search

of mine you’ll find antidote
and the one before that

anecdote. And before that’s
asymptote, but we’re getting

less and less ahead of
ourselves. I remember

the reflection of TV light
on your teeth. I’m trying

to sing but it’s coming out
gibberish, try speaking

in tongues and out
comes elocution. Again

the troposphere goes slow
coals and the window’s

last glimpse of it turns
out to be neon gyros glow,

and you go no though
even as you say it know

it’s pretty much yeah.
You can only get this

far out of your head—
pinhole stereoptic clouds

in the sky of your skull.
Belly / wing coloring

blinks sand to sea / sand
to sea on a swallow, but deer

is where god held the sky
when she painted it sunset.



Gorilla by Jellyfish Light

Baby elephant trunk-bumps the beluga
pod, and two months in I figure out why
I like animals touring empty zoos.
In desolation porn the world goes on
without our fingerprints all over it—
the best parts of us, wonder and awe,
if unsteady on glossy terrazzo.
On our handler’s social media
we’re only so free. Just because I am
also alive but still a dick, I pantomime
a coughing fit, walking the dog to get
someone up ahead to switch sides
of our street. I’m sorry. I’m worried
someone else’s handwriting’s going to
finish this, yours or a coroner’s, in dates
and times and temperatures until, 2 inside,
in spray paint on our door. The world
inside’s all eyelid light fixture just stucco
dreaming, under which we are each other’s
essential worker. We’re one another’s
wet market, open for biz, with a taste
for something. Carnivorous coronavirus,
scour in vain for us via cursor, where
a close-up microbe screams from all our
screens—risen hell nail face, muppet
fiber art fever dream, many-bulbed
edge of the Welcome to Las Vegas
sign, where for one night only
we’re here all year.



James D’Agostino is the author of Nude With Anything (New Issues Press), and three chapbooks which won prizes from Diagram/New Michigan, CutBank Books, and Wells College Press. His poems have appeared in Ninth Letter, Forklift Ohio, Conduit, Mississippi Review, Bear Review, TriQuarterly, Laurel Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in the BFA Program in Creative Writing at Truman State University.