Two Poemsby Nicholas Reading
THE DINER SHRIEKING EVIL
—For Tippi Hedren
Call me evil again & I’ll slap you.
Say it could be anybody & I’ll offer soda
with a wing-bone as a straw. You & I
are as sketch as those boards crowded
over the windows. Every wig here
is dark. If you ask me again why
why do birds kill people? I’ll toast
your naiveté & swift end. Have a seat
dear. The piano bench is warm
& the keys are not like glass. You play
as these hands tear wings & feather
from these pillows. I’ll pry the beak
from our mouths. A pecking will come
at the door & we will have to answer it.
MEL LOUSE AS A PERIPHERAL CHARACTER
IN THE STORY OF MINNIE’S DEATH
Past the switch post there
will be a woman tied with twine waiting
for the train chugging
right on schedule. Mel just acts natural.
The conductor, one
dastardly man mustached & singing good
ship lollypop, has
worked this gig for years. Mel cocks his hat
to appear dreadfully
alarmed as if this woman is his friend.
Or his sister. Or
his mother when she was still a virgin.
Now he watches it unfold.
The prairie is dust & canaries. Clouds
are torn from the set.
He loosens his tie & pulls the shade down
as the women’s cue
to whimper. Gentlemen lead the way
to the Smoker to
sip scotch & listen. From the pit the horns
sound a lovely fever.
Mel is flat when Minnie whines I hate you
though he winces
later. Minnie who, he says, I’m fine.