EXCERPTS


SHREW AL FRESCO

Rich Levy

I'll pheeze you, in faith.

—OPENING LINE OF SHAKESPEARE'S
The Taming of the Shrew

It’s not meant for rococo music box theaters
where overpaying patrons perch
on too soft seats, leaning into hushed meanings,

but cheap crowds, and better yet smelly noisy ones
in parks, on blankets and hard chairs,
gnawing on chicken bones and watermelon rinds,

kids chasing each other, grannies asleep. There’s no way
they’re getting half of this, the half-
ignored actors howling on the garish boards,

weave of word play so dense you can’t
parse warp from woof, let alone
the welter of weltanschauung or the wobbly

useful bits. But in the middle of a nap or game
someone looks up at the stage and
laughs in the right place, at the Esperanto

of insult or some other semaphore, and also I like
to think at the ticklish rip
of language, an alliterative whitewater of words

that rinses over them. I like to picture it not
as the modernist nine-ball
in the corner pocket, or the coy post-modernist

imitation of an imitation of pool, but the random
burst of a break, the ragged V
of a flock of geese that scatters across the sky

at the crack of a gun, one goose falling fast,
the rest re-forming in a flock
stunning enough to puzzle us with its contention:

that a feisty girl becomes a docile wife.

Poems used with permission of the authors, and may not be re-used without their permission.