Were You Lying Then or Are You Lying Now
To be, he said, an American, is to find you have lived
your whole small life on the back of some
starving and saber-toothed creature that has,
all the while, been killing and killing and killing.
No wonder we do so much drinking.
H.’s father went too soon, a suicide.
BETTER TO ASK FORGIVENESS THAN PERMISSION.
Of her partner, Elizabeth Bishop wrote
I DON’T THINK SHE HAD CONSCIOUSLY
PLANNED THIS BECAUSE SHE BROUGHT SO MANY
THINGS—12 KILO BAGS OF COFFEE, ETC.
I remember taking a shot at conversing in Spanish.
When someone mentioned a candidate
for high office, I began to tell the story of going
to see him, in an uncovered field on a hot day
in crucial Ohio. It was noon,
security lines ran long, and people got sick
from the sun and had to sit down. But I didn’t
know how to say sick or sit down, so I just said
everyone died. That’s just like death, to creep in
wherever it can, to huddle in wait
in the dooryard of every story. Death is the best
of the lurkers. Death is the worst of the whores.
It hardly ever refuses anyone’s offer.
The Mind of Popular Pictures
Special sign in the terminal line: NO SNOW
GLOBES THROUGH SECURITY. It’s a major
issue these days, all the trying so hard
to bring the city home. Want to hear what
I never believed? In a movie, if a man
gets x-ray vision, he can see a woman naked.
He can see through her hooded coat
and then through her button-down and
then through her bra, and he does not
overshoot. He does not see through her
skin and then through the flatness
of her sternum and then through the acid
in her cells. In the mind of popular pictures,
the body is like this: it won’t be breached.
I do like that idea. But I’ve been harmed.
I know the movies aren’t real.
Natalie Shapero is the author of the poetry collection No Object, and her writing has appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Progressive, Boston Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Columbus, Ohio and works as an Associate Editor of the Kenyon Review.