Peter Jay Shippy
When We Played With Summer a Space
And Made It Drunk and Lust and Sing
In the street kids raced classic furniture.
We watched Aeron side chairs drag
Chicago cocktail tables. In the park
The woman who collected pop bottles
For Christ cast kittens. Her occasional
Psalms attenuated the syntax of us—
Of vignette existence. We shall under-
Abscond was our motto. I was bodkin
(Blunt needled, large-eyed) yet you were bodkin
(Ivory hairpin), too. The ex-Cubans
Staged a thrilling untetheredball match
In what was left of the McKinley band shell.
"Butt me," you said, pushing your tortoiseshell
Cheaters up-nose. The face stretcher
Who rented our attic joined us on the stoop.
She was reluctant. I was unethical.
You bent forward and down to smell the lilies.
A man riding a Van Der Rohe daybed
Like a litter stopped to beg leather wax.
His porters were living for the breviary.
We declined. The sun crushed its stems.
"Would you like a beer-avous?" you asked.
"Pronto-avous," I answered. In those days
Summer was the machine that we believed
Would never be erstwhile. We shall under-
Capitalize was the maxim fueling
Our axiology. You departed
For the dope-store so I inquired,
I posed to our tenant: Negative?
"Negative," she said. A palooka
On an ebony Noguchi table
Hit a fire hydrant and burst into flames.
She passed me her cigar and went inside.
A Spell of Internal Exile
There was plenty of time to sit and stare
at the light bulb. Songbirds enabled us to listen
to music at the time and place of our choosing.
We let our marbles roll around in traffic.
Twice, with my stepfather, I attached tiny transmitters
to attractive women to track their dreams.
We were astonished to find that certain ladies
had the skill to travel one million miles
in just one night. Mom was such a critter.
Is that how they met so soon after father's death?
I inherited her unique set of mutations.
My brother got the rattan lawn furniture.
Back then, if a man wanted to grow ideas
he'd place a longneck lamp down his pants
to accelerate the magnetic fields and gases
in the atmosphere, creating auroras
over northern latitudes. Then a boy might take
his father's hand and walk into the backyard.
They might put their backs to the earth and the boy
might ask the big questions: How does hair grow?
Why don't clouds fall? What's the deadliest snake?
Then a stream might appear out of the blue
with a surface perfect for skipping. Back then
after 16 stones had been cast, that was that.