082.1: Natalie Shapero:: Four Fights & Arranged Hours 082

This is a little embarrassing. The first time I saw Annie Hall I was visiting a friend’s apartment in college. Senior year, actually. I only caught the ending, something about eggs. Years later, I finally watched the film with my girlfriend (perhaps not the best idea) and only after completing the film, dwelling upon all of my failed past relationships, did I happen to look up Woody Allen’s biography on Wikipedia. There was Mia Farrow. There were nude photos. There was Soon-Yi Previn. And here I am, all these years later, reconsidering my anxiety about eggs, about relationships, about the fundamental role of differences in any romance. And I’m grateful to Natalie Shapero for it. In these poems, Shapero slices and dices, mixes and matches. Each portion of the “Four Fights” sequence incorporates dialogue in the form of point and counterpoint. Yet what really carries this sequence is what follows from the simple banter: we get a great deal of revelation from a speaker I imagine is a Freudian condensation of Mia Farrow and Annie Hall, someone who can speak back to the dreariness of a Manhattan scene, the differences between orgasms, the ultimate unfairness of the neurotic playwright getting with an underage girl. Here, beyond the ironic humor, we get pathos.

“Arranged Hours” also occupies the intersection of several texts, but it deals more explicitly with the intransigence (and confusion) of identity. There is another dialogue, this one internal and profoundly nerdy in its debate over the proper number of ghosts in A Christmas Carol. Of course, what really haunts the speaker is a past that doesn’t remain a past. The dramatic images in the poem, from a dying woman who scrawls her murderer’s name in sand to the macabre humor of autopsy as “questioning with a knife”, suggest that the past and, by extension, a conception of reality are always mediated through literature and film. We find ourselves once again confronted with the problem of standing with the speaker in an environment that is somehow kitsch and poignant at the same time. We satellite along with Shapero’s speakers and believe, at the end of it all, that if we ever turn in the brother who thinks he’s a chicken, we’ll miss out on the eggs. And I guess we keep going through it because, uh, most of us need the eggs. Ryan Winet

Four Fights


(point) To stop a crime in progress,
                                 racking the action is often enough.

(counterpoint) Woody Allen: NOTHING WORTH KNOWING


                                                         So much dark

I would like to be kept in. When I said you could think of me
as your therapist,
           I meant can you leave the room and I’ll make notes?


The housecat was declawed due to aggression, but turned only
more combative post-procedure. This was against her interests
and also was expected. She had developed a hypervigilant
tendency, symptomatic of trauma-related stress, of being pinned
and severed of defenses. She was quick to battle and couldn’t
fend anything off. Stitching her side at the clinic, the doctor


(point) The It Girl finally had an orgasm and her doctor
told her it was the wrong kind.

(counterpoint) Woody Allen: I’VE NEVER
                          HAD THE WRONG KIND, EVER, EVER. MY WORST ONE


                Some girls charge by the hour; some, the act.

And what can I do for you? I’m not the healthy sky downing
a raw egg yolk at night and spitting it
                                                        back in the morning.
        I can dish it out but can’t, and how


        could you leave me in this low

lying state, replete with slings and swinging doors and how
many times have we all seen fucking Manhattan?

                        In the end, he gets with the teenage girl

and you really don’t know how to feel.
                                I don’t expect compassion.

Arranged Hours

The low moon rattled me. Sobered, through with the good life, it arrived
papery and urgent as Marley, the ghost in the chains, the ghost always

omitted in the wrong answer THREE to the question HOW MANY GHOSTS
I remember a thin book, ratty blanket that,

when I held it, chilled me as the anterooms of the starving
or haunted. It is unbefitting to believe in ghosts, to believe what one reads,

what one writes. With a vegetable knife, I excised my long-gone love
from a sheet of photographs, but I couldn’t remove the shadow

he’d cast without doing violence to others. I packed my albums and drove
back to Chicago; in my absence, it had snowed incorrigibly, and I returned

to my city as though to a burgled home, the streets upended, piles of weather
and trash everywhere and the cars strewn in odd spots, no use to anyone. I am

not particularly interested in living bent on vengeance, the murder
victim who spends her last moments scrawling in sand the name of the sap

who killed her. I heard an accomplished scientist refer to the practice of autopsy
as QUESTIONING WITH THE KNIFE. He kissed me in a library

for special books that had no dedications. That is the idiom
of my generation. I can’t speak for anyone else. I wax ever sharper,

harsher, or unchanged, I cannot say. Am I seeing things? How do
we decide who should be hurt? That moon, it was so low it was the Earth.