Michael Neary   © 2012 All Rights Reserved

Ringaround arosie


We bent the Bug’s backseat sipping iced green tea
and vodka, have mercy, I toasted, deploying

the plastic test strips from a pregnancy kit
as swizzle sticks, my drink was positively not

heavy with child so I nibbled red nail polish
from Eva’s long toe, her eyelids shuddered

like a spray of angelica, a bouquet fit for
a glassed queen, no one would choose to live like us

except me, the shopping cart cowboy smoked stinkers
as he wrangled as he screamed obsequies

into his earpiece, the pick-up next to us
was cutting coupons and nodding, with alacrity,

to hair metal, I put an ice cube down my pants
to arrest my stiff kitten, so as not

to appear craven, no one would choose to live
here where winds dance our shirtsleeves to dust,

the parking lot was quiet as dawn, although
it was dusk, the pharmacist who was so kind, stood

between a Mustang ragtop and a mini-van
in the doughnut shop’s drive-through line, texting,

she had told us about a gold-farming factory
in Manchuria, where teenaged workers

killed video monsters and harvested treasure
that was sold on eBay to Japanese students,

a factory that suddenly became infected
by a torch song that spread from screen to screen

like a virus, a song about unrequited love
that made workers too sad to kill ogres,

the police made the pop singer record a new tune
about blissful love—and the spell was broken—

and ogres were once again slain with impunity,
so the moral is, she said, as she rang up Popov,

gum, and First Response, beware false positives,
the name on her employee badge was Ginger Hu,

the plastic test strips from a pregnancy kit
like a spray of angelica, a bouquet fit for

a glassed queen, no one would choose to live like us
like a virus, a song about unrequited love,

it was dusk, the pharmacist who was so kind, stood
in the doughnut shop’s drive-through line, texting.

 

Peter Jay Shippy
Copyright © 2012  

Peter Jay Shippy is the author of several books, most recently How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press). Saturnalia Books will publish a new collection in 2013/14. His work is included in The Best American Poetry 2012. He teaches literature and creative writing at Emerson College in Boston.


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