Two Poems

W. S. Di Piero

An Evening Outside Cedar City

The cut, its petroglyphs of snakes, spears,
elk, human body parts, and dominoes
whose likeness I'd seen in a museum
("indicating celestial rhythms, Mexico, circa 400 C.E.")
some kid spray-canned Luis Loves Becky Sue Rodriguez,
but before we got that far, we raced before a storm,
looking for the abandoned farmhouse, its dead tree
and spiked buds that were eagles, who parted
their black gates then elbowed into flight
from a shape of waiting we'd soon see on stone.

This dissonant rhyming world we keep falling into.
Rain and gusts banged the car, we drove back to town
to see, once the weather wiped, mountain elks grazing
freeway slopes as they did that same week every year.
There. The friend's soft voice fell on us like the rain
starting to fall again, where they stretched their necks
to lip juniper berries, grand and with no thought,
watching us in twilight, as if we were there to be seen
by them. They left that day and haven't come back,
who knows why, and took their old coherence with them.

The Torch Singer

Career comeback, really wired, they all said,
freshened, before you went out the window
like the hothead cop in that Italian film,
a goon-squad beat-down star,
who one night, alone in his drab flat,
pours himself out his own window
on the world, like you, damaged
migratory angel, pure bent beauty
chained to a dead soul.
The dead tell what they know:
nothing at all—they can't
diminish our uncertainty.
How could you, they all said.
Planning another tour.
Maybe a CD. Who knew?
Puzzled weeklong laments and obits
by friends and literarios, ah,
canaries now with newfound tunes
deeper in the mine, who revise
the plot: true, though, for weeks
you hadn't left the apartment
and never picked up the phone,
but who ever expected that?
The gods don't get the blues:
their sulks and falling furies
don't consume their nature,
and melodrama bores them.
Life's got no shapeliness,
it crowds and pours from windows
like broken hourglass sand,
like your "It's All Over Now,"
pure melodrama, nothing like it,
heartfelt extremity and all that remains
of you and songs you left behind unheard.

(Susannah McCorkle: 1946–2001)

W. S. Di Piero's new book of poems, Nitro Nights, will be published by Copper Canyon in November. He lives in San Francisco.

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