Chicago and December

By W. S. Di Piero b. 1945
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 (June 2006).

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2006
 W. S. Di Piero

Biography

W.S. Di Piero was born in 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned degrees from St. Joseph’s College and San Francisco State College. A poet, essayist, art critic, and translator, Di Piero has taught at institutions such as Northwestern University, Louisiana State University, and Stanford, where he is professor emeritus of English and on faculty in the prestigious Stegner Poetry Workshop. Elected to the American Academy of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Cities & Urban Life, Painting & Sculpture, Winter

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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