Natalie Shapero

Natalie Shapero

First of February 

One hassle after another She said she must 
have done something cruel in a former 
life to deserve all this Well madam I’m here 

to bring you the news it was actually 
this life yes the one right now I can pinpoint 
like eight times you flashed a grin 

at suffering subordinates and then zipped 
to the personal trainer Or don’t you remember We all 
get I guess turned around sometimes Take me 

for example I thought I was trying 
to actually end my life and so what 
a relief when I realized it was in fact this 

world that had me in its sights and was sinking 
so low as to frame me Can you believe 
I fell for it I’m nothing if not 

gullible I’ve bought what swore 
to be but truly wasn’t a better 
bar of soap A better no-slip sock A better applesauce 

in its better plastic prism Yes 
I bought it when they said you’ll get reunited 
in death with your dead I went to school I worked 

for tips This world it saw me coming It licked its lips

Great Scaffold 

In Boston, they don’t call it SUMMER. They call it CONSTRUCTION SEASON. 
Birds sing all night, I’ve been told, because in the day they can no longer 
make themselves heard over the pickup and dropoff of various slabs. 

I was trying to list the six principal pollutants. 
I was trying to remember a line by Blaise Cendrars. 

The middle part escaped me. PARIS / CITY OF THE ONLY TOWER 

I visited a home I was wanting to rent. The landlord explained she had gotten
a deal by purchasing the place in the close aftermath 
of a highly publicized rape in a nearby park. 

I relayed this information to L. He shrugged and said BOSTON. 

That was the thing about Boston. Whatever you tried to tell someone, 
they would simply shrug and say back to you BOSTON. 

I said I once woke here in stratospheric fever, and I went to the immediate 
hospital, which had recently been in the news for poor 
lighting and signage. Someone died on the concrete outside, unsure how to get in.

He shrugged and said BOSTON. 

And I said I keep trying to watch TV, but the way they cut together 
the salient previous points of the plot, to catch up the casual viewer— 
it makes me think of reconstructing 
a heinous event through a haze of drugs. The splintered recollecting, flash by flash.

He shrugged and said BOSTON. 

And I said I know people who’ve floated themselves 
away from their bodies in times of wounding, but I didn’t do that. I was 
in there. I was in there. It was only later, on an unchosen day and with 
no gesture of warning, that I exited and could not 
get back in. And I have lived since beside myself, and I am afraid 
I will die here, struggling around for some unfindable door.

He shrugged and said BOSTON. 


Magpie (II)

I endeavored to die. 
But I was a magpie

soaring straight
into a plate

glass pane in noonday sun. 
I thwacked and flapped and slid down. I was stunned. 

What stands between
this world and the next — it’s kept too clean,

creating the appearance of a single expanse.
I lay on the pavement in muck and mischance. 

Can’t they, for the next bird, smudge it. 
Or, at the least, not judge it.

NATALIE SHAPERO is the author of the poetry collections Popular Longing, Hard Child, and No Object. She lives in Los Angeles and works as an English professor at the University of California, Irvine.