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Peter Jay Shippy


When Lucas reached for his revolver


In autumn Lucas built pantoums
From summer's odes. He rented a room

In a brutalist greystone, bordering
The Symphony District. His only

Acquaintance was Rosa, a tuner
For Death Wish Piano Movers.

She lived with Frank, the building's super.
Frank had a Ouija board tattooed

To his iron lung. He slipped Lucas
Extra canisters of cockroach dust, so

Lucas felt shamefaced each time he crept
Down to the basement to fuck Rosa

But her small breasts were divine, like bars
Of hotel soap—apple blossom, peach

Fuzz, plum brandy. Once, while blazing
With Rosa, Lucas heard Frank's wheels

Rolling their way. Don't fret, she whispered,
As she rode Lucas, it takes Frank three

Four minutes to pole his machine
From the workshop to our bedroom.

I'm not bad, not really, just sometimes
I need to feel real skin sweat my skin.

That winter, sacred clubs manifested
For a night and vanished the next day,

Leaving brave new hair cuts and twitchy
Riffs infesting hipbones and joints.

On New Year's Eve post-punks piled-up
Kenmore Square, chanting: We're radiant

Onions! At dawn they walked to Long Wharf
And took the first ferry to London.

In April, clouds of clever chalk dust
Snarled traffic on Mass Ave when dozens

Of physicists searched, in chorus,
For the secret to autonomous

Robotic vacuum cleaning. Lucas
Wrapped pages of The Lice over his eyes

And used his nose to let caramel
From the Necco plant guide him home.

One summer dawn Lucas staggered
From The Rat, along the Fens

To the Temple of Chill Clarity,
Where he left a spray of pink stinkers—

Their signal. At midnight, he met her
At the Hatch Shell. They swapped Walkmans,

Laid back and watched bats scull the air
Above the Charles, hunting for herring-

Fleas in the weir. They made plans to fly
To Scotland and trail the Cocteau Twins.

Lucas was awoken the next day
By Frank, screaming: Transmission received!

Lucas looked out his window in time
To catch Rosa running, pushing Frank

And his sighing apparatus, down
The street and through the Station's brass doors.

                        Boston, 1981


Peter Jay Shippy responds to art, economics, and Country Music not paying him for his poems.