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Extract from My Ragged Company, #19

I asked Alice to ask me to marry her. She asked
if I wanted to lick the painting on the hotel wall.
That’s a poster, I said. Just a paper Hopper: a sad
woman in a red teddy sat on a hotel bed reading
a yellow letter: He’s not coming back. I asked
for a kiss. She asked for a testament. Outside,
I asked a man to point me to a lake or
a liquor store. In Michigan, the man said,
a liquids most obvious attribute is repression.
But, he said, all taverns in Michigan share
one trait: inside is someone that will make you feel
at home. I followed his pointer. I walked across
the street. I took the ferry. I climbed a hill and a tree
and sat in a deer blind for a week until two hunters
found me and took me and carried me to a bar
and resuscitated me with schnapps depth charges
and I drank until I felt very at home and then
I passed out and dreamed my way back to Alice.
The next morning I walked to the bathroom.
My penis was stained. Merlot. Rust. Tide. Blood.
I jumped on the bed, naked before her.
“You’re free,” I said.

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Peter Jay Shippy’s most recent book is How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press, 2007). These poems are from a new project, My Ragged Company.

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Ben Pease is the creator and host of Scattered Rhymes, the featured podcast of The The Poetry Blog. His poetry has appeared in MAGGY, Paperbag, and SUPERMACHINE, among others. A selection of his Blockbuster in Verse, Wichman Cometh, is available from Monk Books here. His collages can be found here and as poetry comics with Bianca Stone here and here .

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