ISSUE NINE
November 1999

W. S. Di Piero

W.S. Di Piero W. S. Di Piero was born in South Philadelphia in 1945. A frequent contributor to Threepenny Review and TriQuarterly, he has published several volumes of poetry. The most recent are The Restorers, and Shadows Burning. He is the author of three collections of essays on literature, art, and personal experience: Memory and Enthusiasm, Out of Eden, and Shooting the Works. He has also published works of translation from the Italian, including a version of Giacomo Leopardi's Pensieri and The Ellipse: Selected Poems of Leonardo Sinisgalli, and in 1996 his translation of Euripides' Ion appeared. He lives in San Francisco.
New Year's Eve at Dave and Sheila's    Click to hear in real audio

     "Everybody's looking for something." —Annie Lennox


This side of the freeway,
wooly pops confuse
the dance floor beat.
Everything smells good.
My sweating partner's hips
push harder into mine,
tequila yeasting through our skin.
We'd lick each other dry,
drink, then do it again
while blue lamps twitch
between other lost dancers.
Until someone at midnight
presses S T O P and calls us
to the front door. We kiss
and hug whoever's near,
squeezing into the night air
where the pops, a thousand corks
like muffled distant gunshots,
are gunshots in fact, louder now
in the quiet outside.
They won't fall here
where in June mysterious
citron lilies bloom. Who knows
how they got here?
We know from Eyewitness News
what guns cost there, beyond
the freeway, the kind
with snappy briefcase handles.
In the air, we smell ourselves,
the old grand cedar by the door,
the dangerous holly leaves,
our tequila, peanuts, and sweat.
How can we not love them,
so telling and transfixed?
When music snaps on again,
we drift back to the floor,
adrift in each other's arms,
and love it more, the constancy
of unchanging beat and words,
against which throbbing voice
my partner, pressing her mouth
to my ear, rubs harder with me
and sings We're here because
we're here because we're here.

 

 

The Person in the Poem    Click to hear in real audio


The junco's black head
twitched on its even
blacker branch that dipped
after the bird was gone,
when my fingers
grabbed almond blossoms
the wind plucked and
rushed past the bees.
So, that's one.
(Those fingers are still
wormy pulp shadows.)

Two is the person,
in that same place,
some other time,
combing out her hair,
bright loose,
each stroke timed
to the snappy cycle
of junco, branch,
bees, white flowers,
though she's screened
by blossoms, leaning
to one side as she does,
that fleck from the branch
where the bird just was.

The morning foglight
breaks up
behind her wrists
that keep shaking
into my life
yellow phosphors
from the hands
that held me.

 

 

W.S. Di Piero: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue NineThe Cortland Review