Best Loved Poems Of The American People

The farmer sent his child
Deep into the orchard

To harvest crows. The sky
Was good with folds of gray.

The farmer's wife filled
The dell with a song

About a grass widow.
The child heard the soughing

Of tusks in the boscs
And the muted broadcast

Of calves in the Delicious.
Mason bees flared. The child's

Tuxedo cat came across
The family plot. A train

Whistled. The headstones chimed.
It was here the child fell

In love with a forsaken
Piano. Back at the farmstead,

The hired thumb built black-eyed
Susans from battery coils.

He jerry-rigged a patch
Of white pumpkins from tarred

Rope and government cheese.
A lost caboose full up

With tourists looped the graveyard.
They asked the child:

Where can we bystand
The last red brick schoolhouse?

The child shrugged and covered
Her head with tuning pins.

The tourists clucked and gazed
Into their View-Masters

And chugged off. The child walked
To the band shell and stood

Behind the piano.
She bowed and licked

The keys. The farmer heard
Whole notes and open vowels

Breaking over the meadow.

The sky turned pumpernickel.
The farmer's wife sang

About a girl sailing
A steamer trunk over

A crayon-colored sea.
The child tasted cherries.

The piano filled with white
Feathers. Its keys were cursed

With photographic memories
Of their days and nights

In the elephant boneyard.
Starlings burned the clouds first

To last. The child sneezed
And removed her boots and sat

At the bench and wiggled
Her toes. The sustain pedal

Triggered a trap door and
A conveyor belt and

She vanished below.
All night felt hammers rained

On roofs. At sunrise
The faces of the stones flared.

The tuxedo cat watched
Wood ants cross their t's

And dot their i's. A bowler
Drifted from a red engine.

The hired thumb severed
A pumpkin from the vine.

by Peter Jay Shippy

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