4 Poems

4 Poems 

Jeff Schiff

Delicious Dysentery

From night kitchens
        reliant on paint scraper spatulas         
                and pilfered AC

From tight ball  deep fried
        how many noxious spores could survive
                the heat

I’ll coat my belly with whole milk
                From the not quite

busy enough  alleyside
        elote  pupusa  granacha

From waitroom-hawked

have pity
        on the ancient  indigenous

        From altitude-parched
                hike the morning

        spout drip
                none to witness

quick rinse quick spit
        holy font waters
                Bless that thirty second rule

From the whynot
        address the fallout at home
                Chicago mañana


pineapple  plantain
        food truck

Guate: A Peppery Taxonomy

        bodacious raisin  cacao flirt
                brash even in a slurry

of quisquil and toasted seed
                rat turd  bird’s eye

quick to anger
        quick to huff off in elliptical disgust

blackseed outlier
        horse pepper apple pepper prune pepper
                daring you in green in yellow in orange-red

        little gourd  rattlepod  cranberry tea
                cross-legged on your terrace

nibbling spiced mango
        swirling Zacapa rum
                Diente de Perro

dog’s tooth  leashworthy
        beware the hand that feeds you

cigar waft  eustachian tingle
        oh to be zinged in a hammock
                of highland moss

Christ Catalog, Part 1: Antigua Style

The Lenten incarnation
        because they are readying
                the city here for Semana Santa

holy week in La Antigua
        champion exsanguinator
                crowned in thorned glory

and doing his corporate sponsors proud
        ready to be venerated
                and pitied

        sort of
                carried in tromping procession

across sawdust and fruit carpets
        by cone-hooded cucuruchos

        hoist and trudge

think grand wizard meets SNL skit couture
        think Roman oppressor extras
                queuing for work at the municipal office

months ahead
        a few rabbi impersonators
                and set-the-scene goats

hoping to cash in
        on the world’s largest Easter adoration
                think on-call float technicians

a dozen barrier and barricade crews
        and embossed parking permits
                Christ VIPs

streaming in from every niche and portal
        think nod and a wink Christianity
                or nothing else matters

Christ Catalog, Part 2: Antigua Style

The diurnal version
        writ largest in peel and place decals

Looney Tunes and Disney renditions
        framing as brash stars
                the inside firmament

of diesel drag chicken busses
        Yosemite Sam as your root·in'-toot·in'

Tinkerbell virgins and Ariel madonnas
        because every day homage is compensatory
                and generative

and no one enforces copyright
        when rides from nowhere to nowhere
                are twenty cents

because Jesus Murio Por Ti
        the big fella died for you
                and lavada en la sangre

washed in the blood
        haven’t been testing well with millennials
                nor with distracted Guatemalan tweens



In addition to That hum to go by (Mammoth books, 2012), Jeff Schiff is the author of Mixed DictionBurro Heart, The Rats of Patzcuaro, The Homily of Infinitude, and Anywhere in this Country. His work has appeared internationally in nearly a hundred periodicals, including The Alembic, Grand Street, The Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, The Louisville Review, Tendril, Pembroke Magazine, Carolina Review, Chicago Review, Hawaii Review, Southern Humanities Review, River City (The Pinch), Indiana ReviewWillow Springs, and The Southwest Review. He has been a member of the English faculty at Columbia College Chicago since 1987.