(Ed note: This month, Coldfront will publish a wide range of writing in an attempt to capture the spirit of Paul Violi and his writing. Here is part 2.)
by Michael Quattrone
Tuesday morning in Putnam Valley, New York:
Paul Violi is standing at his desk in a navy blue, flannel bathrobe and brown, Ecco walking shoes. He has just returned from a driveway jaunt to retrieve the Times, which his wife, Ann, had run over on her way to work. He tosses the paper aside, removes a deerstalker cap and unwinds a wool scarf from his neck.
“It’s windy out,” he reports. He reaches for his coffee, but the mug has vanished. “By the time I find it, it’ll be cold.” Violi has the stoic squint of a movie star. The corners of his mouth draw in when he smirks, or laughs, or grimaces. Disappointed but not flummoxed—or perhaps flummoxed but not truly disappointed—Violi surveys the familiar territory of his workspace.
The poet’s desk is long and narrow, more sideboard than escritoire. Its antique varnished oak bows beneath the weight of books stacked high on either side of Violi’s circa-1985 Wizard™ word processor. Histories on the left side, everything else on the right. Atop a moldering volume of Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria sits a bouquet of cigarette butts in a restaurant-style, glass ashtray, and a red plastic lighter on a half-empty soft-pack of Tareyton cigarettes. He proffers one to his guest before lighting up himself, and then leans over the precarious stacks to peer outside. The second-story window reveals a trapezoid of lawn below, badly in need of raking. Violi has decided to wait for all the maple leaves to fall before addressing them, at which point they will likely be covered in snow, and he will have to chop firewood instead. In the distance, a dog barks at the passing of a neighbor’s invisible car; Violi sits.