A curtain of hazy attitude
colors the axis, heavy breathers appear,
sweaters and leaves demand coloratura,
the hourglass men arrive to change
your sand, which reminds me, I promised
myself a new pair of yellow galoshes
from Central Square where the redressed
windows make of us what they can
before the contractually obligated snow
is delivered by the moving vans
that seem to grow like dandelions
this time of year. This time of year?
Do I smell a parade? Already the yearning
to keep my own counsel and steal
my neighbor’s newspaper and stain
their door with the last tomatoes.
So—before I ossify
let’s walk. Let’s sally. Isn’t that why
we made a home—to have a place
to leave? Let’s paint this town gray.
It’s Hard to Imagine That Nothing At All Could Be So Exciting
We arrived and it wasn’t so bad. Really
not at all troubling, the way you sometimes hear.
The anthems were fish out of water.
The sweaters never grew past our chins.
On the bus tour we discovered that much of the material
came from the stage fright years, uninhabitable
to mere stationary cyclists, but: home is home.
My cube was tidy. I kept swordtails and guppies.
The rain gutters were made of brass. True,
the operas suffered from the failure of the inevitable
to embody the fullness of the uncertain. But
a man named Zhu sold us applesauce doughnuts.
Books were made from paper. Past all reason
was cool. Then the ice cream trucks
with silver megaphones appeared. They said
we’d have to leave. Emails went sosumi.
Officious letters filled my tin box. They pinned notices
to telephone poles. They told us the plots
to the movies we were waiting in line to see.
They said we’d have to leave. Plus
they said, the joke’s on you—this isn’t bliss
or cloud nine. No, this isn’t heaven above
or shades below. We’ve no idea who you are
or what you’re doing here—are you eponymous?
One of us nodded as another shook.
Well, finish your business, they said,
and get on your way. I was sad. We had almost
learned enough Chinese to order muffins.
I paid my parking tickets. I left my flower horns
in the bathtub with enough food to kill them.
Peter Jay Shippy is the author of Thieves Latin (UIowa Press). He has new work appearing in The American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review and The Colorado Review. Links to his poems can be found at www.peterjayshippy.com.