Thursday Dec 07

ShapiroLauren Lauren Shapiro received a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have been published in such journals as Pool, Passages North, 32 Poems, Forklift, Ohio, Drunken Boat, notnostrums, and Thermos. Her first collection of poetry, Easy Math, won the 2011 Kathryn A. Morton Prize and is forthcoming from Sarabande Books. She lives and teaches in Madison, Wisconsin.

First Man Gets the Oyster, Second Man Gets the Shell

Coming from the shower, any proclamation is possible.
Just because the first domino falls
doesn’t mean there will be repercussions.
Just because the children’s book scares the bejesus out of me
doesn’t mean I’m immature.
Every time I lace up my ice skates
there’s a fire in the building. I don the hard hat
and the ski mask only to find
it’s not a costume party after all. You know,
the hole in the fossil record can be attributed
to the needle-in-a-haystack phenomenon—
in other words, we’re gluttons for punishment.
When I reach out for you, there’s a tiny genie
in my right ear saying Go! and an enormous
elephant in my left saying What the fuck
are you thinking, you little shit?
I climb out of the pothole in time to see
my family disappearing in a covered wagon,
laughing and playing their pioneer games.
I order a piña colada but receive a pineapple daiquiri.
I place one foot in front of the other but find
I’m already on the moving floor.
First there was Adam and Eve, and then, well,
you know. First the largest and most comfortable bed,
then Grandma Wolf drooling in her bonnet.
I’ve been warned a million times, but seeing
isn’t believing, it’s a pit stop on the way
to somewhere else. Friday I’m at the dentist,
submitting to sharply painful logic.
Saturday I’m at the carnival, which means
that I’ll have another stupid chance
to win that giant panda I couldn’t win
in fifth grade for Stephanie St. Clare.

A Tediously Slow Realization

Somewhere in Scotland the lambs crest a hill
and head back down. The lemmings jump.
When I acted that way it was on behalf of the species.
That’s how come I got bruised knees, swear.
Weatherman says 49% chance of sun,
49% chance of rain, 2% chance of nothing at all.
Scientists are still interpreting the results of all non-numerical
equations such as why when asked to draw
their dream house, most people in The Bahamas
will add a chimney with springs of smoke.
Wake up, grandma, the song’s on repeat.
I’ve been trying all day to fit this square block
into this round hole. I’ve been trying to remember all those lessons
in morality. In mortality. Philosophy will save us all.
Make that religion. Make that two eggs over easy,
no salt, with a side of fresh greens. The only escape
is realizing you’re already there, or as my father
likes to say, Wherever you go, there you are.
After a fitful night, I wake up massaging
the feet of my enemy. The idea sweats droplets
of itself all over my skull. Internet, I don’t hate you.
America, I don’t hate you. I never wanted it
but now I wipe my forehead with your bandanna.
Aw hell. It smells sweeter than I would have thought.

What To Do

I begin by painting the nude woman.
She is a cantaloupe in the most famous
still life in history. The world is reflected
in the belly of the nude that shows me only
an ever-repeating image of myself.
I cover one eye with a grape leaf
but I am still there, hunched in a ball
in the belly of the nude woman.
I hear her whispering. Are you speaking
of beauty? I ask. She wants lunch.
We eat the still life next to her.
I can’t even get into what happens next.
When I have finished the painting
it hangs in the student show.
A man looks at it. He doesn’t know what
to say. I don’t know what to say.
It’s colorful, he says.
Thanks, I say.

How I Wrote a Belated Love Letter

Hold this yellow boxing glove
that has found its way into the form
of a tulip petal. Imagine it is the last thing
I will ever give you in confidence.
If we stand in a circle we reach a unity
that comes with the impersonal.
A rhino dies in Sudan, and a little boy
dies in Waco. Over the din
a piccolo announces itself.
People say things without knowing
whether they will come
to fruition. Instead of a baby
I found a candy wrapper in my bed.
I wanted to tell you in February
but now it is May and all I have left
is this boxing glove. It is the same yellow
as the crest of my imaginary cockatiel.
I hold the cockatiel in my hands like a candle
and it tells me to think about
what happened last year in Florida.
I don’t want to think about what happened
last year in Florida. Do you?