7.08 / August 2012

Four Poems

The Movie My Murderer Makes

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My murderer has stalked me my entire life. He stood beside the basinet the day I was brought home from the hospital. And there he was again at my first birthday party. My parents must have thought he was a distant cousin they hadn’t seen in years. If you’re thinking this sounds like a scene from a scary movie, I think so too, and that is what it would have felt like if I could remember, but it was my first birthday, so I don’t, I just imagine a Superman cake with one blue candle stuck in his red chest and people peering over at what must be the little me and, any one of them, my murderer.


The Movie My Murderer Makes

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He showed up at my friend’s lake house every summer when I was a kid. He caught the most fish. He held his breath under the water the longest. I swam by. I feared the silence of snakes. I felt him pinch my leg. Sometimes it felt more like a tickle. I giggled. When he hid in the toolshed he knew I wasn’t scared unless I was asleep. He held hairspray and lighter behind his back and snorted. He used to hog the bathroom too. He hid in the tub. And in the kitchen once I caught him with his face shoved in the fridge, looking for leftover pizza. My friend’s father saw him that time and chased him down the moonlit steps all the way into the lake. He swam to the other side and disappeared into the night.


The Movie My Murderer Makes

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My parents had him over for dinner one night. We had meatloaf and mashed potatoes. He polished off two plates then washed the dishes. I wanted him to finish the meatloaf left on my plate so I could have a piece of apple pie, but he just kept repeating, “I already ate, I already ate” as he backed slowly out of the house, hopped on a tandem bicycle and pedaled off alone. It was sad. And also like someone was filming the whole thing from the top of the catalpa in our front yard.


The Movie My Murderer Makes

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My Murderer is a handsome man. He’s the mean guy in the movie that you want to win. De Niro in Raging Bull doesn’t quite cut it. But he’s definitely like a kind of De Niro character. Other than that, he wears designer jeans from the 70’s and cheap sunglasses. In other words, he drinks too much. He gets drunk and forgets where I live and I don’t see him or hear from him for a while. Sometimes years. Then I’ll run into him at a dance party in a city I am visiting for the first time and he’ll pretend nothing has ever happened. Sometimes he pretends that he doesn’t even know me.


Shipman's latest poems appear in Airplane Reading, Bayou Magazine, H_NG_MAN, The Offending Adam, Spork Press and TENDE RLOIN,among others. He is poetry editor for DIG Magazine of Baton Rouge, where he runs the River Writers Reading Series with Vincent Cellucci.
7.08 / August 2012

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