This week we are proud to feature “Enchantment” by Peter Jay Shippy. You can find the print version in our new issue, TMR 34:2, which debuted earlier this summer. 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). He’s received fellowships in drama and poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and in poetry from the National Endowment of the Arts. He’s published widely, in such journals as the American Poetry Review, the Boston Globe, and Iowa Review. He teaches literature and writing at Emerson College. Please visit him online at peterjayshippy.com
These poems are part of a new collection, Kaputnik. The Russian suffix is meant to grace the stark adjective: kaput: defunct—the opposite of Herb Coen’s intentions when he Sovietized “beat” in 1958. The series stars Lucas, an everyman, wandering a world of gags and grotesques. Although there’s a narrative arc, it’s a soft one, not so much temporal as a poetics of absolute reality, which, as quantum physicists tell us, is a reality of many worlds—so Lucas can die in one poem and go to work in the very next one. And, of course—they’re all versions of me! “The girl in the Blue Öyster Cult onesie” was inspired by a trip my wife and I took. Wandering around SoHo we came upon a street cart selling rock onsies—Stones, Beatles. We thought they were adorable—but the prices! Who would pay $50 for a baby’s outfit? Us. A few years later our brand new twin girls were the envy of daycare in their day-glo Sex Pistols creepers.
Because his neighbor was a witch
Lucas agreed to paint her house
For birdseed. After the second coat
He put a sunflower kernel
Under on his tongue, washed it down
With a boilermaker or three
And waited for the thrills to kick-in.
Will I sing like a skylark?
Will I soar like an albatross?
Like the nightingale, will I inspire
Tuberculars to scribble odes?
After more beer, Lucas fell asleep
And dreamed he was a goose feather
In a pillow, between a pea
And a princess. Nevermore,
He squawked to the dawn sun, nevermore.