Standing Room
by Gian Lombardo

ISBN: 0-940475-90-1
Dolphin-Moon Press (Baltimore, MD), 1989
80 pp., softbound, 4.75" x 7"
cover by Michael Franco, text drawings by Matthew Mattingly

Individuals: Order directly from Small Press Distribution,
1-800-869-7553 ; or

Bookstores: Order through Small Press Distribution.

From a family trying to determine the best time to go fishing to a boy who turns into a fish to a monk setting down to eat his arm, these prose poems carry the reader into a world skewed off from the normal. Another world is created for the reader by the author's self-deprecating humor.

“These prose poems delight and they distress. From Baudelaire to Edson: They know their history and are not crushed by it. Lombardo's masterful prose poems are a significant contribution to the genre.”
— Askold Melnyczuk

“The pieces are enigmatic and quietly surrealistic, walking a very fine high wire stretched between the everyday and a dryly sardonic personal folklore... A harmless-looking little reality-bomb set to implode quietly in the imagination.”
John Strausbaugh, New York Press

"Standing Room is a tortured alphabet of dreams. Baudelaire meets Buster Keaton, where stares become words... Lombardo's straight-faced prose poses as a new type of scientific writing seeking to define the emotion of the brain and the knowledge of the gut."
Michael Martone

From Standing Room...

Keeping It in the Family

Grandfather's chasing the children again.
As usual, they've trained the garden hose on him and
it's heeled perfectly.
He's bolted out of the garden and they've scattered.
One's under an overturned boat. Cousin's crouched in the bushes. Another orbits the house, seeking reentry through the front door. He gets in and busies himself in putting together a kite. He tries not to breathe too hard.
This time Grandpa's got a shovel. Other times it's the
pitch fork, or hoe. The trowel is especially unthreatening. The children try to bear in mind what he's holding, but sometimes they are unable to resist.
In the meantime, the dog's tearing up the parsley,
sniffing out the dead fish. The hose is still running, starting Lake Blueberry, and the children watch the man in the straw hat and bathing trunks with the shovel meant for their rears and listen to their lesson in language and color, new reminiscences of the family tree.

Inordinate Griefs
Tear out the hair, by the handfuls, until the pate loosens from the skull. Beat at the breast until ribs cave in on heart and lungs. Heave up such cries and sobs that entrails lie on the floor, a child's train set, a road map to Eldorado. And think, if you will, how fortunate it would be, then, to have someone grieve.

Little Things
Little things with no ears do not bite. They don't even move. Say "hello" to them and they will not respond.
Hello, you say to them and more and more. They do not respond, not even when their ancestry or sexual preference is in question.
Put them on their heads; they do not move. But show them a box of ears -- plastic, metal, wind-up mechanical ones, ones of flesh or paper -- and they will blink and declare that they have never heard anyone say to them that little things with no ears do not bite.

© Quale Press LLC, 2006. Receive information on Quale Press books.
Terms for Booksellers.