Published: August, 2014
Praise for The Red Handkerchief and Other Poems by Daniel Shapiro
“The passionate images and staunch heart of these poems plunge us deep into the life of the body––and the mystery within and beyond it. The poet knows that whatever we encounter––a face in the bathroom mirror, a dead lover’s shirt, even a wig, unexpectedly reimagined––can liberate the true self beneath our fears and disguises. Unsparing yet generous, The Red Handkerchief leaves me surprised by hope.”
—Joan Larkin, author of Blue Hanuman
“The emotional honesty in The Red Handkerchief and Other Poems is matched only by its luminous intelligence. Daniel Shapiro writes with courage and grace about transgressions, departures, desire. His full-throated songs against oblivion are also gestures of tenderness and revolt.”
—Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages
“A red handkerchief is to open shirts and tawny skin as hustlers and drag queens are to settings of memory, desire, and initiation—‘black pools of mirrors, numbers and rooms.’ Shapiro’s poems liken the signs of sexual pursuit to pathways on a cultural quest of ‘clouds to mean / hope instead of loss.’ Whether light can prevail is the unease that connects New York to Havana and Guadalajara, on night journeys that a last breath can still commemorate.”
—Roberto Tejada, author of Exposition Park and Full Foreground
An excerpt from The Red Handkerchief and Other Poems
Tonight at the mirror,
I admire my upper lip,
the stubble growing darker each day.
I keep dreaming of disguises—
thick handlebars of hair,
the great Fu Manchu,
one like Gable’s, pencil-thin,
to make women swoon.
In old photos, my father was his double
until his face got recast
into long Russian jowls and an apple nose,
a black brush just beneath it.
He was a man who scribbled
faces on his eggs
before releasing the yolks,
in the bowl the floating globes
like twin suns.
Now I imagine mine becoming his
no matter how I disguise it,
I see his nose jutting out of
my brow in ten years,
hair becoming yellow-gray and thin.
I keep glancing behind me,
into the mirror:
my face blank as an egg.
About the author
Daniel Shapiro received an M.F.A. from the University of Montana. His poems, prose, and translations have been published in publications including American Book Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, BOMB, Brooklyn Rail, CNN.com, Confrontation, Poetry Northwest and Yellow Silk. He is the author of Child with a Swan’s Wings (2013) and the translator of Cipango, by Chilean poet Tomás Harris (2010; starred review, Library Journal). Shapiro has received translation fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN. He is Director of Literature at the Americas Society in New York, and Editor of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas.