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There's a Possible Person on the Roadbed

Inside the stopped train
growing warm, I watch
the broad wings of noses
speckled with blackheads,
the pink bald spots
starting to sweat. I remember
my summer job, piling dead dogs
into hefty-bags, the fur
sliding off in fistfuls,
or holding an Irish setter
while a needle eased in.
Home, I feared my door would open
before I was done, my pillow a lover
whose white shirt I peeled back.
The one-night stands
those years, I couldn't stop
their struggle and thumping
in my embrace, their dead weight
in my arms. I take a plunge,
I take a wild curl into myself,
I take up residence
with my left hand,
I pluck fuzz from my ears
or stubborn hairs
from my nostrils, keeping at bay
their certain spiral toward the grave.
Fluorescent light inside the train
yellows faces, still I stare
my bland amazement at this fellow’s face
in the smoked glass pane,
full sacs under his eyes
raised like dimes,
the veil of hair hurrying away
reveals my scalp.
I can’t conceal with the loudest shout,
with tricks of memory and skin
(the conductor stating, the passengers
glistening, waiting).


Daniel Shapiro

Daniel Shapiro's poems have been published in Black Warrior Review, BOMB, Confrontation, The Connecticut Poetry Review, Downtown, Poetry Northwest, Yellow Silk, and other journals. He is the author of "The Red Handkerchief and Other Poems" and "Child with a Swan's Wings," and translator of Cipango, a collection of poems by Chilean poet Tomas Harris. His translations have appeared in many journals including American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, BOMB, Chelsea, and Grand Street . Shapiro is Director of Literature of the Americas Society in New York City and Managing Editor of Review: Latin American Literature and Arts.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2004

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