Three poems by Peter Jay Shippy


Spork's Poetry
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Three poems by Peter Jay Shippy


I can't believe that you're in love with me

I watch my neighbor cut our grass
With his teeth. Clouds pass under

The sun making it difficult
To read my newspaper. My hands

Look bruised and wrinkled like
I've been wringing a deluge. I walk

From the porch to her Mustang
And turn on the radio and mess

The knobs and antenna until
I find metal. The car's caked.

I wonder what kind of molars
My neighbor holds in that mouth?

I wonder when it was, exactly,
I became fly-by-night? When

Did she hire him to work my work?
"Never have I seen anything

So green," I say, later, over drinks.
He smiles, thinking I mean grass.


Willow, weep for us

The large body waltzed the small body
Across the room. A mother and child?

Princess and dwarf? The faithful son
Dancing with his maddened mother,

Pretending to be the man who forsook
Them both, years ago? Hard to say

Though I was only inches away
From their window, crouching in a bush.

Oleander? I'd lost my glasses which
Made it tough for me to smell. Go figure.

The large body waltzed the small body.
The pain in my gut wasn't going

Anywhere soon. Forsaken? Plus,
There was a sharp in my shoe— a stone

Or a bird. The latter, I hoped.
We'd all be wishing for a song soon.


The world is waiting for a sunrise

The tin spider quits my toy chest
To crawl the wall and attach

To the window, like a pigheaded fly.
She begins to spin. I keep one eye

On her wire web and one more on
My work. I'm weaving paper leaves

To pin to the branches of the silver oak.
When the armored sedans roll by

The spider rattles. I understand,
Trepidation. I remember hiding

In dark classrooms, under wooden desks,
Waiting for bombers to happen.

To wile away the weeks they taught us
To commit a dictionary letter

To memory. I had K: from Ka
To Kyrie. They put our stomachs

In Tupperware to keep our pangs
At bay. We weren't supposed to remove

Our blackout goggles, but once, I did.
The classroom was empty. Blackboard scrawl

Glowered like eels under pond ice.
Was I the one saved, or the one doomed?

Did this mean I could move on to L?
It turned out everyone was outside

In the playground. I had tuned my ears
From the world and missed the calm down

Alarm. So, I grasp apprehension.
I know that the souls of the dead

Need their effigies close, but closed
To us, which is why I sew veins and stems

And fat ribs: when heaven breaks free
My leaves will shudder and we'll have seconds

To meaten our little prayer books.


Peter Jay Shippy is the author of Thieves' Latin (University of Iowa Press, 2003), Alphaville (BlazeVOX BOOKS, 2006) and How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press, 2007). Shippy teaches literature at Emerson. For more poems, try: