“Shadow Play”

Here is a poem that was included in this month’s Soulful Sundown. It originally appeared in Poetry, January 1987.

“Shadow Play”
by Ralph Angel

She leaves the motor running.
I would too. I would like to marry her, that face
repeated a million times in this town.
In the exhaust next door a man
twists his wooden leg into an impossible
position. He doesn’t even have to say,
“I know, I know, and nobody resents me.”
He just grins.


On the vendor’s tin scales, daylight
shifts and splinters. Blood on the black brick,
a shopkeeper sweeps glass from his eyelids.
A young man fidgets in a doorway,
cups his hand around a blue
flicker of panic, and leans back
into the shuffling papers and footsteps,
the noise that opens away from him
and is not noise.

Now a cleaning lady stops herself
and looks over her shoulder. And so does
the mailman, a traffic cop, a kid walking his bike.
And the perfect word lodges
deep in the throats of businessmen
talking gibberish, drawing lines around themselves
until obsessed and hailing taxis.
Only our loose clothes

between us, the linen tablecloths, white
as blindness. Only the putter of canal boats,
the vine covered walls, some cursory
glance that empties our eyes, when they meet,
of options, and won’t let go.
A person who might

grow older. People who will dash their dreams.
People who will come back and
live in the aroma of bread, and the sound of
a thousand doves unfolding the plaza.
I would like a glass of ice water.
It’s the little thing, when I’m lucky
the world comes to me.



“Public Television”

Here is a poem that was included in this month’s Soulful Sundown. It originally appeared in Shiny International, #3, 1987.

“Public Television”
by Aileen Myles

I’m always scared. Aren’t
you. In the kitchen
everything is humming,
my mother comments
that what I’m reading
looks heavy.  I say
it isn’t it’s
about television
and go on
to explain
structuralism &
Robert Young
& mention
Zeborah in
passing as
where I
got this
and that’s
all my
heard, I
know it.

I don’t
why you’re
not calling
me this

Is it because
I only wrote
you one love
poem last
August or
is it that
you’re ashamed of
me I
fume up the
small winding
hills of Man-
chester, Mass.

There but
for the
grace of
god go
I behind
a woman
my age
her two

I hurry
home to
which postcard
I forgot
to send.
Can I be
breezy in
a letter?

My mother’s
gonna sit
by the
stove.  It’s
cold in
the kitchen
in New

The sportscasters
are funny
here & the
people eat
a lot and
aren’t so
friendly but
they say

If you
called me
that does
mean some-
thing.  That
I should
mind my
own business
the new
way to
be.   There
is of course
a mass media,
the thing
that everyone
sees that
everyone knows
what does
know, do
they care?

Does it look
okay.  Then
there’s the
little private
world of
feelings, let’s
call that

I don’t care
how it
looks, or
if we’re
watched by
how many
billion viewers,
see, I am concerned
with having
the important
spot in
your heart
and a channel
to mine
I want
this beam
to be
long and
and true.
Is it?