We’re in Our Never Splendor

Image © Daniel M. Shapiro 2016


by  Daniel M. Shapiro February 29, 2016

They invite you to a variety show. You’re overcome with admiration as you watch everyone warm up: fire eaters’ unlit run-throughs, jugglers’ tosses of turned-off chainsaws. Stay back stage, they say. As a White Swan pas de deux ends, they say, Now it’s your turn, push you onto the stage. You start to walk off and they say, Don’t make us show you what happens to the losers. You’re about to ask what you’re supposed to do when the piano player starts to play boogie-woogie and nods at your feet. You don’t know how you were outfitted with tap shoes, don’t know how the Bandy twists and barrel rolls come so easily. The audience nearly drowns out your sound but restrains itself enough to hear the rhythms you had held inside for your whole life. As your feet continue to move, you know you must be the winner. You try not to think about what will happen to the sword swallowers and unicyclists, but you love to win.

Title is a lyric from “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” by Culture Club (#9 on Billboard Hot 100, 1983).


Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of How the Potato Chip Was Invented (sunnyoutside press, 2013), a collection of celebrity-centered poems. He is a poetry editor of Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and he interviews poets for his website, Little Myths.


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