Alan Shapiro reads Sickbed
There were two voices in the fever dream:
Hers speaking from another room, and theirs,
The teenyboppers’, 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 someone 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.
From Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro
© 2012 by Alan Shapiro