Ask the Author: Joseph A.W. Quintela

Joseph A.W. Quintela’s poem I Am appears in the February issue and he does a lot of answering our questions with questions in today’s interview.

1. What implement of destruction are you really?

Why is an axe thought to be more dangerous than a hat? Was the hat black or was the hat brown? Was the axe silver or was it just a figment of my imagination? Does it even matter? Do you remember the feel of the leather handle of the first axe that you ever held? Did it feel like a sentence or a conquest? Did you swing the axe down upon the wood with guttural abandon? Did you watch the splinters scatter like refugees? Did you hold the axe or did the axe hold you? Were you wearing a hat set at a jaunty angle? Does it even matter?

2. What would the bastard child of John Henry and Liberace look like?

How do you measure the strength or the speed of a blow delivered by the flashing hammer of John Henry? How do you catch every glimmering glance of the glitter on a shirt worn by Liberace? Can any child, bastard or otherwise, be vast enough to bear such an inheritance? How about the universe? Is it strong, and fast, and glittering? Will it catch your eye no matter where you look? Will it be full of vigor and song? Is it, already? Or is that why we write poems?

3. How do you handle a jealous lover?

Is the lover jealous or is jealousy love? Why can’t I believe that either answer to this question quite encompasses the truth? If you put a handle on jealousy does it make it easier to pour out? Would you want to pour jealousy out and share it? Or would you rather keep such a precious thing to yourself? What about love? And what is more precious? The love you keep or the love you share?

4. Who is this poem for?

Should a poem be for someone or should a poem be for anyone? In the previous sentence, is there a semantic difference between anyone and everyone? If so, what? If you had to choose, would you prefer to know anyone or everyone? If you were going to read a poem would you prefer it to be in a room filled with anyone or everyone? Or perhaps I should be asking, which do you fear most: the unpredictable or the immeasurable? Both?

5. Are you watching me through a wall?

If you were to put a wall between us would it be made of plaster or of wood? Does the rough scrape of plaster against your fingers excite you more than the smooth kiss of sanded wood? Why do you touch walls as though they were your lovers? When is the touch of a wall more comforting than the touch of skin? How do you decide what to watch? Is love revealed before your eyes or must your eyes learn how to reveal?

6. Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or Seattle’s Best: which is the best chain coffee?

Is a chain coffee like a chain letter? Is a chain letter like chain mail? How are we to protect ourselves from the arbitrary nature of language? Is language the armor or is language the sword? When words glisten is it because they have been polished or because they have been bloodied? Why I am I so afraid? Why do the questions hound me? How did they catch the scent of my blood? Will the scent of coffee disguise me? Steeped in such uncertainty, where can I possibly run?

  • “When words glisten is it because they have been polished or because they have been bloodied?”

    Do I love it?

    Yes. Yes I do.

  • Nothing like coming across a new reflection of one of New York City’s finest. Good choice Pank. Joseph is one to watch… and read. And share axe stories with, I imagine.