Happiness Wears No Clothes

Anthony DiMatteo

Beauty wears no clothes
and no offense meant to the statue
but liberty wears no clothes.

Imagine a large naked woman
welcoming people to New York.
How kind and trusting, how free.

But no ferry tours happiness
or death. If one knew in advance,
who’d buy a round trip ticket?

Neither one’s a style or an industry,
friend or enemy, more defections
than states. A state of non-being

exists only in math. Infections from
laughter or disease accidentally arise
from the perfection of things,

collateral damage but not
as in what warfare doles out.
Cancer cells don’t drink vodka,

launching drones from Florida.
Words don’t suffer on their way
to the period though letters look

like sardines packed into cans.
Dark humor afflicts only the living
because the butt of the joke can’t grin.

How crowded and full of crows
the shores of the dead, sea-glass
for eyes and see-through clothes.

Happiness too sits naked
on the beach. No sooner noticed
than gone, to put a towel on.


Anthony DiMatteo is the author of many essays, reviews and poems as well as of the first English translation of Shakespeare’s mythographer Natale Conti. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, his poetry has been seen roaming recent pages of Avatar Review, Front Porch, Smartish Pace, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Articles and reviews can be found in Connotations, Early Modern Literary Studies, Notes and Queries, Renaissance Quarterly, Spenser Studies, and elsewhere. A reviewer for Choice and an associate editor of College Literature, DiMatteo stubbornly teaches the naked mysteries of art, literature and writing at the New York Institute of Technology. An avid solo-hiker and somewhat incompetent sailor, he happily lives on Long Island with his wife, the designer and pianist Kathleen O’Sullivan, and nine-year old son Michael, two dogs and a canary. His poem “Happiness Wears No Clothes” is from a manuscript Beautiful Problems to be published by David Robert Books later this year.

“Often turning to natural imagery, as well as surprising relations, DiMatteo uses the poetic space to gently (though boldly) scare out the emotional deceptions and intellectual inconsistencies that we sometimes live by, often seemingly not by choice. He does so, at first, to let what we already ought to know hang in the air—“Things don’t exist this way”—in effect, forcing his poems (and us along with them) to consider what must come next. While what DiMatteo does poetically after such disarming confrontations can differ, both in terms of his technique and his contemplations, his understanding of the stakes remains consistent: to carve out for us “an utter silence of understanding.” — Geffrey Davis

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