Peter Jay Shippy Poems






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





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