Ode to Placido Domingo on Jeopardy!

Olivia M. Sokolowski

So right now we throw our darts “At the Opera”, laughing
because I said I’d nail it but I haven’t, three-ish beers steaming up
this evening’s machinery, this evening in which Tom and I watch
Jeopardy!  with my brother who has brought over his new girlfriend
bravo!–for the first time tonight, and when your name pops up, 
Placido, it’s the opposite effect of its meaning, a little spark
(laughing on the couch I can get this one!) as you cameo
for the last question, and by the time you say hunchback I blurt
out What is Rigoletto! Rigoletto! What is Rigo–
letto? I offer up but start thinking to myself what 
is Rigoletto, huh, pulling out its little blue velvet drawer
inside me, all the silk sashes leaping, that first level 
Rigoletto like one wriggling out of a bind, the petals

of the trashed azalea fall into a ring, it’s North Carolina,
it’s spring and the sun downs like orange sherbet
over the tennis court, the parking lot where I first
heard the Prelude was the last place I saw an ex,
I was cleaning out my car, I watched him turn
the corner, he turns it again and again now his hair still 
matted down with grease; that summer I walked every day
through my mom’s neighborhood I was trying to write a poem
about the Russian bar where I dressed all in leopard, balanced
a plastic shot of vodka on my nose—a better poet
could get that one down,  don’t you think, Placido? Could you
sing it for me, omitting the bit on “stillness”? Yes, I want

to vanish only under the weight of silly things. And of course
you sing the famed aria for us now, while Tom at the fridge
says I just know that one from comedies, and I agree it’s weird
the song is used for those devices—it’s the precipice before
shit hits the fan and already sounds sour—but no stress, it’s a Tuesday
and we’re wearing bunny slippers, and my brother is just now
stretching his arm around his girlfriend and I fear I’ve hit the end
of an argument, here: how that melody remains the same,
but la donna, la donna… I turn my face to you, to
the kitchen, catching the light from both sides.