THERMOS 5: Lauren Shapiro

These three poems were originally printed in our fifth issue, released in the spring of 2010. Easy Math, Lauren’s first book of poems, won the 2011 Kathryn A. Morton Prize and was released by Sarabande Books earlier this month. We’re excited about the book, which is here, and happy to share these poems once again as we move our first five issues from one website to another. Thanks Lauren! — AS

I’ve Always Wanted to Say This

There was a time when mansions had so many rooms
they had one just for fainting. If you had to faint,
this was the best room for it—chairs the size of beds,
shag carpet, cloud-sent, the whisperings of Enya.
But when you woke up it was the worst room in the world,
and such are the machinations of life. When I was little
I wanted to be a truck driver and now, essentially,
I’m a truck driver. I watch that show—what’s it called?
I forget—for eight hours straight. Then once in a while
as I’m walking down the street a man’s eyeball pops out,
and we’re both a bit surprised, and he cups it in his hands
and blows the dust off, and puts it back in.
At the dinner party I tell the story of the eye popping out,
and then someone else tells about finding an ear in the gutter
and everyone drinks more wine and Marty finally opens up
about his little brother losing a hand in a table saw
and Sarah admits that she once lost a nipple to a feral dog
and Tim, after some prodding, shows the empty area
where his testicles once hung. And then we walk home and
Jesus Christ it’s cold outside! says my husband, and
it’s so cold it does feel like something huge is about to happen
and that’s when I see both of our features slipping off
our faces and we go home anyway and make love
and rub our blank faces together and I feel a deep
and exciting newness welling up in my stomach
and I think that I will bake muffins tomorrow morning after all.

According to the Magazines, Lindsey Lohan Is Very Lonely These Days

After a meal of General Tso’s, we learn
that an exciting opportunity will soon present itself.
I get up to give a toast at the wedding
but all that comes out is a gasp.
What I’ve learned from Hans Christian Andersen
is that there is a tiny world in each pore of the universe
populated by tiny people who also dream
of larger realities. In the space between coffee
and lunch lies an expanse as unforgiving
as a cross-country bus ride. Not knowing
where to sit or who to talk to at the barbecue,
I choose the roof. But hey, the Rubix cube
is only as hard as the guy pasting on
the colored squares wants it to be, right?
The girl who wants to be married with kids by 30
misses the point of both, no? And so the algorithm
of finding solace is the algorithm of rejecting
such algorithms in the first place.
Pirates emerge from myth. A scientist claims
to have taught a rhesus monkey to hum
the alphabet in six languages. The last baby
born in 2009 beats up the first baby born in 2010
while mothers stand by in disbelief.
Fortune teller says grandma will trace our family
back to a happy-go-lucky seafarer from 1830s Australia.
Weatherman says life is a constant search punctuated
by tornadoes and moments of regret. I close my eyes.
It is almost my birthday. Deep in the cake
hides a plastic doll. Who put it there,
and who on earth wants to find it?

Photo Op

The lights are flashing.
People throw flowers at my feet.
It’s you! they shout.
Listen, I say. I’m here
to talk about Darfur.
Oh my God, it’s you! they shout.
A girl breaks through security and faints.
All around the room people are waving
cameras and pens for autographs.
Please, please, they say. It’s really you!
Just then a pigeon flies into the studio.
No one cares. A cameraman kills it with a brick.
The lights flash red, red, red.
Yay! they yell. It’s you! It’s you! It’s really you!

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