David Yezzi

New Town


The storm-light and the blowing bales of leaves,
mountainous clouds, the frequent gusts of rain,
humidity that causes him to sweat,
this isn’t the way it was in the old town.

In homeroom he has to stand without a desk
until a teacher sends him to his place.
When she says his name, thirty faces turn,
and when they look away they don’t look back.

His father’s still living in the other town.
His mother has appointments during the day.
When he gets home he microwaves a plate
and empties a can for the cat. They eat.

In the dark, his mother, home by eight, can see
the TV beaming through the picture window,
as he paces through a dungeon with a rifle
and fires in an indiscriminate spray

at anything that moves. His mother lies
down with her clothes still on. Soon she will sleep.
The porch light shows bare trees above the yard
and the rusty sumac in a low-slung sky.

David Yezzi’s most recent collection of poems is Birds of the Air.