New Endymion

By W. S. Di Piero b. 1945
She visits still too much, dressed in aromas
of fir needles, mango, mold: I still get lost
knowing she’s close, me not getting younger
or more conscious. Sometimes I fantasticate
I’m broad awake: her witchy presence waits
for me to jump into her arms, but then she’s just
an incoherent ache in sleep’s freaked scenes.
I feel her frosty nitrogenous hands and wrists
vaporing nooses around my head and feet
and genitals, conjuring my drab hair
into a party bowl of oiled, desirable locks.
She makes me nervous, but what would I do
without her? So long as I can’t have her,
I want her and this alarming manic frequency.
Then again, who wants to wake to change,
its pulped, smelly suit of meat, drawing flies?
My night-watch hot girl, moon-maiden, mom,
let me get just one night’s sleep without regret,
released from your foxy ticklish fondlings,
your latest smell of windblown fresh-cut grass.

The editors of Poetry magazine have paired the following prose quotations from City Dog: Essays by W.S. Di Piero with this poem:

"I had no poetry mentors in college and was intellectually formless. I took instruction from whichever poets came my way, with little more than chronology, crude taste, and instinct to lead me. Visual artists became exemplars, too, and I wanted to emulate them, since every art—music, dance, writing—seemed to converse with some other and all were in the business of form-finding. I don’t mean to dignify this. I was raw, green, mule-headed, and fearful of being found out: I was hideously unprepared for serious study and as hideously primitive in using words. But I was dog-face serious and must have cut an amusing figure."

"In time, the poetry I wanted to write would be one without middle zones, without a sustained discursive middle range or plain presentational balance. I didn’t want to sound like Tennyson, sonorous, dignified, and responsible. Browning was closer: capable of the most exquisite lyric effects but also twitchy and volatile and impatient. I’m touched by Henry James’s description of him reading his poems aloud in a way that suggested he hated them, biting and twisting the words, anxious, unsatisfied, inflamed by their very existence."

"New Endymion" from Nitro Nights, 2011, reprinted with permission of the Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press. Prose excerpts selected from City Dog: Essays, © 2009, reprinted by permission of Northwestern University Press.

Source: Poetry (June 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2012
 W. S. Di Piero


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 Love, Desire, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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