Peter Jay Shippy


Mother died today or was it yesterday,
I can’t quite remember
, is funny unless

it’s your mother and she died intestate
in flagrante delicto under me, under

the influence in a state not Nevada,
so cut the gas track and laugh the engine,

we have a paper jet to fold, next arrest
the Mink Fez in Memphis, Tennessee, let’s sit

in a pleather booth with the reddest ribs,
the friskiest whiskey, and our universal baby

monitor, punching its buttons and bending
antennae until we hear “Green Onions”

putting some soulful grub to sleep, Let’s funk,
you’ll say and I’ll acquiesce, I’ll press

your gloved hand between my paws as we float
toward the ceiling where a bare bulb buds

frayed wires, black threads off a defunct web,
Cowboy, pitch your tent, you’ll say, reacting

to my reaction to your foot in my mouth,
your mouth against my zipper, as a podiatrist

you’re a brilliant psychiatrist but before
I can spill my head we’ll feel the soft cuff

of butterfly nets against our beans as the staff
pulls us down from our hairy aerie so

I can’t quite remember is funny unless
Mother died today or was it yesterday?



I feel fractious, high mutt, a problem
that figures blackboards into chalk clouds, cirrus

shit, let me show you my tap-dancing scar, cheek
to scowl from performing wicked scissor kicks

across Moscow’s notorious ear-waxed floors
as a boy, night after night, two shows each Sunday,

I never wore shoes, no, those were for firebirds,
instead I used a nail gun to shoot steel brads

through my feet, I was thrilling in my pashmina
leaving the boards crossed with my ruby score,

today I ride the train to work, one circle pit
after the next, at Back Bay the doors open,

now I surf the crowd, aiming for the exit,
seizing hair extensions and cauliflower ears

for balance, my fog-laden Alps are bereft
of Romantics, as you carry me toward the hole

in the car, to my calcite station, I can smell
the gladioli incense, the Brahmin beer,

hummingbirds are stripping cocoanut Munchkins,
through the skyspace I see can see the cranes

returning, anise, the reek of insomnia, lift me
toward the milky rift, let me show you my wallet,

genuine tongue, serious giraffe, money talks
blue streaks, please lick my myrtle-scented pits,

please kiss my Goddamn Florsheims, as a boy
I never wore shoes, no, those were for firebirds,

now I surf the crowd, aiming for the exit
seizing breast implants and penile extensions

for balance, my sun-smacked deserts are bereft
of pilgrims, as you carry me toward the tumulus

I can taste pretzels and honeycomb, the glow
of your laptop grows rusty, I can almost taste

the bronze escalator, I can hear a teenager
wearing army boots and a Baby Bjorn

play “Immigrant Song” on her cello,
I’m a little ship on your waves, hauling me

to market, strew my hair plugs with mistletoe,
and strangle me with ruby laces, pretty please.


PETER JAY SHIPPY is the author of several books, most recently How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press). Saturnalia Books will publish a new collection in 2013. His work is included in The Best American Poetry 2012. He teaches literature and creative writing at Emerson College in Boston.


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