Captain Lovell, ["Shakey Eyes Horton had nystagmus too"]

By Gabrielle Calvocoressi Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Shakey Eyes Horton had nystagmus too.
That’s what my father said and took me
to the record store so we could buy him
and take him home to listen. Babe says
he’s so square but we go all over. We listen
to music for hours and dance around
the house like crazy skeletons: loose

with all our bones knocking, we go,
“click click click” and wave our arms
and shake until we rattle all the china
in mom’s cabinet. He turns the volume
up and we spin like planets round the sun.
Babe says he’s no fun but I know different
because I see him laughing and I try,

which she just never does. She walks
into the house with Jasper waiting in the car.
She grabs some clothes or asks for money,
though she doesn’t even come to do that
anymore. They don’t even talk. Last time
we had the music on loud and we were dancing.
I was letting my head swing back and forth

and she just stood and watched us with the strangest
look and I said, “I’m Shakey Eyes! Come dance,”
and moved my arms around. I followed her up
the stairs, swinging like a satellite and going,
“Ooh ooh ooooohhhhh,” just like a low-down good-
for-nothing so and so. I know she thinks I’m funny
but she didn’t laugh and I said, “Come dance!

You know you’ve got the blues.” Then I said, “You’re
no fun.” She said, “You don’t know him like I do.”

Source: Poetry (April 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2014


Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of Apocalyptic Swing (2009) and The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (2005), both from Persea Books. She is the senior poetry editor at Los Angeles Review of Books and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Parenthood, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Arts & Sciences, Music

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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