h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

.........
PETER JAY SHIPPY



...........
Lope de Shakespeare Vega


       for Bill Knott

 

I needed snow to kill the darkness and darkness
to make the snow which left me with a fsh

skating laps on a pool of vichyssoise, parsley
and water chestnuts, garlic and minced onions,

I spent my days in a floating chaise, smoking
myself into a doughnut over the former pleasures

of her body in my bed, her thick red hair
booed my white sheets as we perpetuated

the American songbook, I was a man with needles
and fishing line which led to steady work

down at the hockey rink mending split lips
for the baby Sabres which led to quilt circles,

used vinyl, and heroin, scars like the signatures
of the illiterate, garlic and minced onions,

when I’m cooking, she said, butt out, one misstep
can change a recipe into an autopsy, parsley

and fishing hooks, in the stereoscopic photo
on my parent’s mantle I’m wearing a veil

and her wedding dress in the tundra at dusk,
loving cups, glass globes filled with used rice, white

vinyl spinning the kingdom of the blind
where the one-eyed man knows what he’s missing,

you can’t have his body until the spring thaw
my family told the umps, I spent my days

smoking myself into a doughnut over the time
she used silver duct tape to bind me to her

chest and hiked 10 miles from our single-wide
on the shore of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls,

to the train station to strew Bengal rose petals
at the 20th Century Limited 

carrying Jorge Luis Borges from Boston
to Buffalo for a lecture, the argentine

Argentine, after the express passed hundreds
of aficionados swept-up the flowers,

walked to the cataract and threw them over
the American falls, that night we joined an armada

of tractor inner tubes, floating the river,
the lower Niagara, singing rounds

of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” we beached
yards from our home where we spent our days

skating laps on a pool of vichyssoise, petals
booed my white sheets as we perpetuated

used vinyl and heroin, scars like the signatures
carrying Jorge Luis Borges from Boston

to make the snow which left me with a fsh
and her wedding dress in the rink at dusk,

I can remember apples falling off the trees
in our backyard that no one was harvesting,

I looked up at the blades skating figure eights
and rang the Pachelbel, she lowered her coaster,

I held a rainbow trout wrapped in funny papers,
what do you call a fish without eyes: fsh,

and I took my place in the car, on Comet,
on Cyclone, on Phantom, on Viper, on Thunderbolt.








.............
Eclipses

Nana slapped a phony Fabergé egg
with a black boa and my mother was born

filling the kitchen with the smell of first snow,
Grampus slipped out the window and raced

a greyhound to the coast, on the shelf, a jar
of white rice shook itself silly, like stoned lice,

I was there, her daughter, sipping sack, a witness—
don’t ask how or I’ll tell you how and then…

there’s no going back, in fact, it was me who wrapped
her own bawling mother in the Gazette while

Uncle Maxim greased his balancing pole and split
his pants for work, I read the funnies, specially

the strips with animals that wouldn’t exist 
when I was a girl, I loved the one with Bugg,

a mustachioed cockroach from Bohemia
who broke English into confetti when he professed

his love for Clarice, a beetle from Rio
with question marks on her wing covers, so

we daubed-on whiteface and donned smoked glasses,
Nana latched the baby to her breast and ordered

a dozen long-stemmed American Beauties
and used the box to construct a pinhole projector,

at first light we were off to watch the cortege
carry the body of Atlas, our strongman,

to his resting place on the spinning stool
at the end of the bar, we rode the boneshakers

to the river and skipped stones at kids until
they handed over their lunch pails, her pupils

were black as pips, snake-eyes, the dog throw,
my mother’s eyes struck my eyes like matchsticks,

the sun whistled white as bone, Uncle Maxim
dipped a Kaiser roll into the warm water

then molded it into a dummy and plugged
my mother’s red yawp, years later, he would lead

a crack camouflage unit during the war,
they managed to conceal hundreds of clouds

from enemy zeppelins, years later
Grampus’s shadow came home and stained the carpet,

years later Nana stuck me to her old tit
and taught me to steer robotic mitts with my thoughts,
 
years later Bugg’s moustache grew into two queries,
as my mother grew older she stopped stomping

the floor like Trotsky, the amazing counting horse,
and so the circus ran away from her,

don’t ask how or I’ll tell you how and then…
I was there, her daughter, sipping sack, a witness—

Nana slapped a phony Fabergé egg
filling the kitchen with the smell of first snow.

 

 

 

 

Bio: Peter Jay Shippy’s 4th book is A spell of songs (Saturnalia Books, 2013). His work appeared
(and will appear) in The Best American Poetry 2012 and 2013.






 

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