Two Poems

by 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.