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We dollhouse monsters

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   dine on disco balls and starfish,
                      our jowls crashing
            like cymbals,
   while my baby brother takes out his eight-ball
left eye and squints his right
             to line up his shot
   on the world’s smallest pool table.
Mother has a camera for a head;
             it flashes uncontrollably
                      though she claims to have run
out of film a hundred years ago,
               when father’s penis,
an unstoppable spigot,
    became a garden sprinkler,
contained by adult diapers, changed hourly,
                      and hourly, my sister—
             shuffling out of her hiding place
in the cuckoo clock, her hair a mess
             of paper clips, a Raggedy Ann
                      doll
    in her arms—sighs
             to pass the time.
Water seeps through the ceiling,
                      because upstairs
    the bathtub overflows, for
             Grandma has forgotten
                      the bath she’s drawn,
and on the stove the gas is high, the flames
             are heating up a pudding
     over which my opa whispers:
boil, boil, loyal rubble,
              follow me to the end of my life.


Source: Poetry (November 2010)

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

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We dollhouse monsters

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  • Christopher Shannon was born in Beech Grove, Indiana in 1981. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he received a BA in English and Creative Writing as well as a minor in music, and the University of Florida, where he earned his MFA. His poems have appeared in 32 Poems and Denver Quarterly, and he has published reviews in the Germanic Review. He is the editor of the text-message poetry journal Cellpoems, which recently won an Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. He is currently a Director of Marketing and Development at the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

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