Joe Dolce: ‘Without Consent’ and ‘Settlement’

Without Consent

Hiding in shadow,
huddled near the Saint,
at the French Catholic Church gate,
a deformed Vietnamese girl eats phở,
immune from tourist hunger.

Elephantiasis or agent orange
has given her sixteen-year-old head
a three times ordinary size,
facial features drooping to one side.

I watch her from my blind
behind a flame tree
but her downward gaze
food-focused has no luxury
for my real or imagined trespass.

Joe Dolce


He stakes claim to the vowels,
she the consonants.
The dirt is in her name,
the roots are his.
She signs over her blood type,
a third of the colour red.
He agrees to return bedtime prayers.
She refuses to budge on reflux
but acknowledges authoring
deafness in his left ear.
She holds the patent on anxiety,
he retains directorship of yelling.
She is granted care and control of makeup sex.
In exchange, he has access,
on alternate weekends, to the toilet.
Children are to be left at an orphanage;
memory of bank accounts erased through hypnosis.

Together they mutually agree:
to sell the dog, bury the car,
and sign over the house to the Third Reich.

They saw no need to make it ugly with lawyers.

Joe Dolce



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