Sickbed

By Alan R. Shapiro b. 1952
There were two voices in the fever dream:
Hers speaking from another room, and theirs,
The teeny-boppers, singing from the screen.

Hers spoke a litany of grievous thanks,
And thankful worries, who did what to whom,
And why, and thank God it wasn’t worse, poor bastard,

Poor thing, while theirs kept singing who wears short
Shorts, we wear short shorts, over and over
Till I was singing too. Someone, thank God, at last,

Was out of it, and some one else, thank God,
Had only lost a breast, and Shirley what
A good kid, what a beauty, what a doll,

She let herself go when the bum walked out.
Thank God they never had a child. Thank God
They smelled the smoke; they found the keys, the dog;

Thank God they all wore short shorts as they sang
To me on little stages on the stage
Where boys and girls were dancing all around them,

Singing and dancing where it wasn’t worse,
Thank God, and, thank God, no one paused to wonder
Who to thank for just how bad it was.

Source: Poetry (November 2010).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2010
 Alan R. Shapiro

Biography

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Alan Shapiro was educated at Brandeis University. As the author of numerous collections of poetry, Shapiro has explored family, loss, domesticity, and the daily aspects of people’s lives in free verse and traditional poetic forms. He has published over ten books of poetry, most recently Reel to Reel (2014); Night of the Republic (2012), a finalist for the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize; . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Tercet

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