Two poems from Anna Scotti’s Bewildered by All This Broken Sky
followed by a note on the author
Crouching there, by the bald back tire,
you might be pulling roots from the black earth,
shooting craps, stirring the ashes of some archaic fire,
or tracing letters in the thickening soil, smelling leaves and bone
and loam rise against the swelling heat.
Your cheek is a wing, soft against the cool fender.
Last time: the shriek of crows, each blade of grass.
Now your fingers curl about a stiff cut hose, each separate
and determined to make this thing happen.
You released a falcon once, palms spread wide,
pushing him up, up into steep canyons of silvered clouds.
Your dogs will be snapping in the side yard, soon,
fearful and reluctant, but hunger-tamed
against the whispering uniforms, the jangled steel,
the deadening odor stirred by a thin breeze,
mingling with milkflowers, evanescent, and away.
All that beauty never got me much; strangers laying claim to what they think they
recognize, every smile a promise, and most the kind you hope they won’t keep. Beauty’s
an old dog that’s too faithful, that sticks with you despite the curses and the kicks. They
say it’s a mask but it’s the opposite in fact; it reveals what’s inside, and everybody wants
that sweet cream at the center of a chocolate éclair. What am I, now, but an old broad
with glitter at her temples, scattered in her hair, yet I can’t stretch on the bus without
staking a claim. All that beauty never got me much but trouble, and a taste for trouble, a
folded note, a couple of drinks at the bar.
Anna Scotti is a writer, editor, and public speaker living in Burbank, California, where she teaches at a French international school. Scotti’s unpublished collection, Bewildered by All This Broken Sky, has been named finalist for the Bogan Prize, the Spacks Prize, and the CPR Editors’ Prize, with individual poems receiving a variety of distinctions including the Fischer Poetry Prize (Telluride Institute), the Pocotaligo Prize for Poetry, judged by Nikky Finney (Yemassee), and an honorable mention for the Neruda Poetry Prize, judged by Patricia Smith (Nimrod International Journal). Scotti’s poetry can be found in The New Yorker, Nimrod, Sequestrum, The New Guard Literary Review, The Comstock Review, Chautauqua, Fungi, and other journals. She also writes fiction; her work appears in recent and upcoming issues of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and she has received the Orlando Prize for Short Fiction (AROHO). Scotti’s young adult novel, Big and Bad, will be published by The Texas Review Press in 2020. Read more at www.annakscotti.com.
“Sheba” first appeared in The New Yorker, December 18 & 25, 2017. “Away” was a finalist for the 46er prize and first appeared in The Adirondack Review, 2008-09.