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SHAPIRO, Karl


Auto Wreck


Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating

And down the dark one ruby flare

Pulsing out red light like an artery,

The ambulance at top speed floating down

Past beacons and illuminated clocks

Wings in a heavy curve, dips down,

And brakes speed, entering the crowd.

The doors leap open, emptying light;

Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted

And stowed into the little hospital.

Then the bell, breaking the hush, tolls once,

And the ambulance with its terrible cargo

Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,

As the doors, an afterthought, are closed.

We are deranged, walking among the cops

Who sweep glass and are large and composed.

One is still making notes under the light.

One with a bucket douches ponds of blood

Into the street and gutter.

One hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling,

Empty husks of locusts, to iron poles.

Our throats were tight as tourniquets,

Our feet were bound with splints, but now,

Like convalescents intimate and gauche,

We speak through sickly smiles and warn

With the stubborn saw of common sense,

The grim joke and the banal resolution.

The traffic moves around with care,

But we remain, touching a wound

That opens to our richest horror.

Already old, the question, Who shall die?

Becomes unspoken, Who is innocent?

For death in war is done by hands;

Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic;

And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms.

But this invites the occult mind,

Cancels our physics with a sneer,

And spatters all we knew of dénouement

Across the expedient and wicked stones.



Buick

As a sloop with a sweep of immaculate wing on her delicate spine

And a keel as steel as a root that holds in the sea as she leans,

Leaning and laughing, my warm-hearted beauty, you ride, you ride,

You tack on the curves with parabola speed and a kiss of goodbye,

Like a thoroughbred sloop, my new high-spirited spirit, my kiss.


As my foot suggests that you leap in the air with your hips of a girl,

My finger that praises your wheel and announces your voices of song,

Flouncing your skirts, you blueness of joy, you flirt of politeness,

You leap, you intelligence, essence of wheelness with silvery nose,

And your platinum clocks of excitement stir like the hairs of a fern.


But how alien you are from the booming belts of your birth and the smoke

Where you turned on the stinging lathes of Detroit and Lansing at night

And shrieked at the torch in your secret parts and the amorous tests,

But now with your eyes that enter the future of roads you forget;

You are all instinct with your phosphorous glow and your streaking hair.


And now when we stop it is not as the bird from the shell that I leave

Or the leathery pilot who steps from his bird with a sneer of delight,

And not as the ignorant beast do you squat and watch me depart,

But with exquisite breathing you smile, with satisfaction of love,

And I touch you again as you tick in the silence and settle in sleep