No Shadow of Turning
poems by Trey Palmisano
ISBN 1-59948-036-0, 32 pps. $7
Due for release in October, the advance discount price of $6 will be available from the Coming Soon page until October 1.
Samples / Author Bio / Comments
Here in the Bay
She is somebody's Saturday night.
The harbor lights bend incandescence,
burn orange streetlamps,
thread through open seams
that spread thin buildings wide.
Time ransoms fate
to the cars that round the block
and those that circle back.
Until she finds the closest shadow,
and steps into her own.
She's careful not to wave.
Tonight, he is hairy and short,
whose hands are flecked with age.
Nervous eyes beat cautiously over
streets one thousand miles
in every direction.
He grips a small bible. Inside,
four crisp bills hang like tongues
from soft leather lips.
"How much for your heart?"
A gravelly voice follows his hand
into the pages, 1 John 3:6,
leads her to the side door,
undresses her shame with a smile.
He might be just as damned
as she is saved, but he talks
a good Jesus, compares track marks
the size of stars in constellations;
the same, her last john says,
lie just overhead,
whose light rarely reaches here,
where so much depends on faith.
A Pigtown Christmas
On route to my aunt's house,
makeshift crosses climb
the hill at the Exit 11 off ramp.
They slope down the gravel
cul-de-sac where a graveyard of
car parts and broken lives
decay along the roadside.
You wouldn't even know it's
Christmas on this side of town.
Crossing over Washington Boulevard,
I'm taken by the indistinguishable seasons
that come and go.
And still, not a decoration in sight.
Green and red graffiti
hang from every vaulting overpass,
while a marquee declares a happy
holiday, missing a few majuscules,
but most people around here
can't read anyway.
As we cross into Pigtown,
street lights flicker timidly,
as though they
were embarrassed to be there.
But the neon shines proud,
looping strands of colored lights,
tied into carefully crafted
words like "Bar,"
and "Cash and Carry."
It is a quarter past six at night, and I'm
trying to piece together
South Baltimore's holiday cheer.
But only mismanaged colors
dot the streets-
the closest they'll ever get.
For some the transition was natural.
Yet, Wigglesworth did not begin like this:
He thought the devil in everyman
and scared the dickens out of those
This pipe fitter
brought with him the spirit of his
trade: fixing what was broken
and breaking those who were
fixed against him.
Ask him, and he'd tell you he
was an "understudy to the Spirit,"
upshot of the potato famines
and the Word of God, at odds
with those who professed to
believe and showed no shame.
Now years later, after hundreds
of reported testimonies,
with his words half-cocked between
my nose and hands, the book is
much heavier than the paperback
it claims to be.
In the stillness of the evening,
I am at a loss for
words even if he is not.
About the Author
Trey Palmisano works as a media analyst for a major U.S. defense contractor in the Baltimore-Washington area. He is an area graduate of Towson University, a former adjunct professor of English, former small press intern, former Catholic turned bible-believing Christian, former sinner turned saint. He has pursued graduate studies at American University and St. Mary's Seminary Ecumenical Institute of Theology in philosophy and theology, respectively.
Trey's writing and poetry have been widely published and appear in the pages of the Hawai'i Pacific Review, Sojourners, Genre, Potomac Review, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Wisconsin Review, the Baltimore City Paper, and the Baltimore Sun. Most recent work, and represented in this chapbook, can be found in the Roanoke Review, Poems & Plays, Urban Spaghetti, Streetlight: A Journal of Art & Literature, and in the anthology, Becoming Fire: Spiritual Writing from Rising Generations (Andover Newton Press). Trey's poetry was nominated for the 2003 Pushcart Prize in Literature, and, in 2004, his work was selected for a Keith L. Ware Liberty Bell award in journalism through the Department of the Army. He has also written under his birth name, Frank S. Palmisano III.
While his eyes are on heaven, he makes his earthly residence in Baltimore county with his wife Krista, daughter Isabelle, and English bulldog, Tucker.
"Whether describing a dog's burial or Sartre smoking a cigarette or a moth's attraction to flame, Trey Palmisano's fine poems, anchored in image, reach toward mystery. Honest and searching, this is poetry of faith."
-- Jill Peláez Baumgaertner,
Poetry Editor, The Christian Century
"Trey Palmisano's poems beg a paraphrase of William Carlos Williams' famous line, "No ideas but in things!"-to wit, No faith but in things. But we must not misread either original or the paraphase. "In" is the operant word. Ideas, yes! Faith, oh yes! But faith made flesh by birds, a scarecrow, a literal drought that is also a metaphor for whatever makes the spirit thirst for grace. An eternal mystery made flesh by the light of a neighbor's TV or passing cars reflected in a bedroom window; an intensely spiritual moment made flesh by a momentary cessation of a wife's snoring. Damnation made flesh in a stench over Curtis Bay.
But Trey Palmisano is an outstanding craftsperson as well as a visionary. His diction seems as "high" as Eliot's or even Yeats', yet it enters the present with its rhythmic and syntactical risk-taking.
No Shadow of Turning is an important book: important for poets, for the faithful, and for the seekers."
-- Clarinda Harriss,
Professor of English, Towson University,
editor/director of BrickHouse Books, Inc.,
author of Air Travel
In No Shadow of Turning," harbor lights "thread through open seams/that spread thin buildings wide." So, too, are our crevices-of both doubt and belief-pried open. Trey Palmisano uncovers what we hide. Here "ground breaks any spade/bold enough to open graves"; faith bubbles up, "ready to burst the seams"; and "desiccation signal[s] a grace/we struggle to make sense of." Scarecrows, Sartre, weeping statues, Icarus-like moths-all are "strange visionaries" forcing us to "shift [our] center of/gravity to weightless contemplation." Hallelujah!
-- Marjorie Maddox,
author of Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation;
and co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania