Tuesday Nov 21

Peter Jay Shippy is the author of Thieves’ Latin (U of Iowa P, 2003), Alphaville (BlazeVOX BOOKS, 2006) and How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press, 2007).  Saturnalia Books will publish his next collection, A Spell of Songs, in 2013. He has received fellowships in drama and poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work appears in The Best American Poetry 2012.  Shippy teaches literature and creative writing at Emerson College. His website can be found here.
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Anthology
 
 
A mouth sings ballads, a mouth sucks a lemon,
a mouth hides uncouth words under its tongue,
 
once a month a mouth opens wide to let
moonlight strike its pigheaded lungs, a mouth
 
flutters during the movie’s scary part, the part
where a mouth opens the heavy door and takes it
 
on the chin, when a mouth whistles “Misty”
a cab appears to drive  a mouth to the sea
 
where a mouth lures a pearl by screwing up,
by puckering like a lonesome oyster, a mouth
 
swells in the spring to keep from blowing away
the names of the flowers, a mouth presses against
 
the door, like a dog, like a dog’s mouth waiting
for the squall to end, a mouth fills with water
 
to score the ball lightning, a mouth needs
a mouthful of ash to knead into a ball, cheek
 
to cheek and once across teeth until a world
is ready for the oven, a mouth swallows
 
the cake, the saw, the salt lick, a mouth swallows
a golden swallow and flies for the storm’s eye,
 
to stop its mind from blowing steam a mouth ties
its tongue into a fist, to raise a new clapper
 
a mouth grows a ruby cocoon from its gums,
even crows cry when a mouth fills with brown leaves
 
and curdled apples, a mouth must inhale a ton
of sulfur to blow just one halo, a mouth chews
 
on its spectacles and sighs, someone enters
through the eyes to take the mouth by surprise
 
and together they eat the candle flame, a mouth
soothes a stone to fashion a whisper, a blush streak,
 
a mouth wakes up late at night aching for milk,
for mother’s nipple, when a mouth finds another
 
mouth they form a little spindle to weave a woof
for the devil, to keep Mr. Scratch at bay, 
 
sometimes a mouth hides, a mouth hides under a veil,
a mask, a smile, under starblink, a prayer,
 
a mouth hides under wax lips until it tries
to kiss the sun and is revealed, burnt and sere,
 
a mouth applies a balm of snowflakes, a mouth
raises its meat slipper, a pink flag, no surrender.
 
 
 
Ou es-tu, mon amour
 
 
As for me, I became the knife that pares notes
from the sparrow’s throat, I flew the fighter
 
that dropped the bomb on the Cathedral
of Erotic Mystery, as for me, I filleted
 
your piano, looking for the harp concealed
under the fallboard, then I did what singers do
 
in arias, I joined the Royal Navy,
Dogsbody, 4th class, mother gave me a bag
 
of pease pudding, an ampoule of opium,
and a chintz cape slash shroud, lined with moonstones,
 
as for me, I was in the kitchen baking
lavender cakes, hoping to snare the honeybees
 
that dropped the bomb on the Cathedral
under the fallboard, then I did what singers do
 
in a sacred chantey, I tied my leg
to a rocket and launched myself from the beach
 
into the sky so I could watch the villagers
race from their high pastures to the sea to grab
 
their harpoons and set off on their jet-skis
in pursuit of whales, as for me, I spent weeks
 
with my nose glued to your apse, in my green
mantilla and thong, filling evidence bags
 
with Meissen dildos, snail shell prayer beads,
tibias and fibulas and leaves of ashen psalm,
 
as for me, back in real time, without you,
I was coding my way to the monkey house
 
on easy street, I was shooting H-O-R-S-E
with myself when we smelled burnt sugar, skin,
 
a plume of brown smoke was blocking the sun,
gulls circled, meowing like a sack of children,
 
as for me, I’m the sentry of a green motel,
over the ancient sea, I guard the window
 
of Erotic Mystery, as for me, I fillet
the salt glazed glass by my teeth, by my nails,
 
etching-in your eyes your hair your legs your breasts,
tibias and fibulas and leaves of ashen psalm.