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Elizabeth Bishop

Story by Glenn Shaheen (Read author interview) March 15, 2008

I said I wanted to read the collected poems of Elizabeth Bishop by Friday. You said she was seriously coming between us and that we needed to do some real work. This is indicative of a lot of problems. You dance naked in front of the mirror, you genius. I am regularly ashamed of every part of my body not enveloped in shade. I want to watch the symphony perform a work of sincere tragedy by Dimitri Shostakovich (preferably the 8th Symphony). You want to watch the girl punk band who perform in bikinis. Yeah, that’s art babe. You say you hate cats. I say I hate dogs. I don’t know if those are really oppositional. The poems you point to in the collected poems of Elizabeth Bishop I am reading by Friday I find trite and annoying. The poems I point to you find impenetrable. Just kidding, of course. I stopped pointing out poems to you a long time ago. I learned my lesson. You sometimes say you want to be alone. I just want to want to be alone. I say the world is my canvas. You say the world is your toilet. On that one I probably agree. The chair you liked from IKEA was sparse but comfortable. The chair I liked from IKEA was impossible to lift and full of stuffing. We settled on a love seat neither of us really wanted. It is also comfortable. You are disappointed that the cover of the Elizabeth Bishop book is pink and think that is sexist. I agree, but say that the cover of a book of poems is essentially meaningless. I call you three times a day but you never answer. You text me ten times I day but I can’t figure out the way text messaging works on my new phone. You can’t sleep in the bed after sex because my snoring is too loud. I can’t sleep in the bed after sex because I have a real problem with getting too warm at night. A human being is like an electric blanket. We live in the south. We have heat in abundance. I can’t stress that enough. You sometimes agree, and sometimes you are cold. If I moved to hold you then or now, I’m not sure if you would cringe or tremble with anticipation.

About the Author

Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collections Predatory (U of Pitt Press, 2011), and Energy Corridor (U of Pitt Press, 2016), and the flash fiction chapbook Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013). Individual pieces have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and elsewhere.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty

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