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By W. S. Di Piero

Trying to find my roost   

one lidded, late afternoon,   

the consolation of color   

worked up like neediness,   

like craving chocolate,   

I’m at Art Institute favorites:   

Velasquez’s “Servant,”   

her bashful attention fixed   

to place things just right,   

Beckmann’s “Self-Portrait,”   

whose fishy fingers seem   

never to do a day’s work,   

the great stone lions outside   

monumentally pissed   

by jumbo wreaths and ribbons   

municipal good cheer   

yoked around their heads.   

Mealy mist. Furred air.   

I walk north across   

the river, Christmas lights   

crushed on skyscraper glass,   

bling stringing Michigan Ave.,   

sunlight’s last-gasp sighing   

through the artless fog.   

Vague fatigued promise hangs   

in the low darkened sky   

when bunched scrawny starlings

rattle up from trees,   

switchback and snag

like tossed rags dressing   

the bare wintering branches,   

black-on-black shining,   

and I’m in a moment   

more like a fore-moment:   

from the sidewalk, watching them   

poised without purpose,   

I feel lifted inside the common   

hazards and orders of things   

when from their stillness,   

the formal, aimless, not-waiting birds   

erupt again, clap, elated weather-

making wing-clouds changing,   

smithereened back and forth,   

now already gone to follow   

the river’s running course.


Source: Poetry (May 2009)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Nature
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

W. S. Di Piero
W. S. Di Piero was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received his bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s College and his master’s degree from San Francisco State College. He has also had a long teaching career at such universities as Louisiana State University, Northwestern University, and Stanford University, where he still teaches. Di Piero was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. He often writes about growing up in his neighborhood of South Philadelphia, and the Italian-American working class families who largely populated the area. See More By This Poet

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