Parades always made her tired, so it wasn’t surprising that the assassin fell asleep on the roof.
As she napped, the roof became quite crowded.
A family of six had a picnic, fried chicken and potato salad. Their baby gummed lime gelato.
The super pretended to repair the cooling duct. His toolbox was full of ale.
An octogenarian who had learned to swim in the Baltic Sea leaped into the wooden water tower for her daily laps.
A boy wearing an aviator’s hat fed his pigeons. One of the birds, Charles, was worried about Amelia, his mate. She hadn’t returned from their afternoon flight. The boy understood, so he stroked Charles’ head and whistled, “Volière.”
The octogenarian climbed out of the tower only to discover that she had forgotten her towel. The family cleared their picnic and after apologizing for the crumbs and green stains, wrapped her in their plaid blanket. She invited the family, the boy, and Charles to her apartment for chocolate covered prunes.
The Super emptied his last bottle, closed his toolbox, walked toward the railing to take in the view and almost stepped on the assassin. He noticed her rifle. Italian. A Marinetti. He picked it up and looked through the scope. There was an old hen circling the building. The sky was melting like a Creamsicle. He clicked off the gun’s safety and tucked it under the assassin’s arm.
The assassin dreamed that she was a girl in her bedroom having a pillow fight with her sister.
Feathers fell through the air, ticking their cheeks.
My doctor recommended that I rent one of those birds trained to whistle lullabies.
I was dubious, but desperate.
On the drive from the rental place, Polly performed a beautiful rendition of “Scenes from Childhood” followed by Satie.
I was hopeful.
Once home, I broke her neck, plucked, cut, brined, basted and a few hours later: Perroquet au Vin! Lovely.
And you know what—it worked! I slept like the dead.
Of course, the rental place charged me a late fee.
Que sera, sera.
An Eel Soup Digression
Because the navigator didn’t understand that the crease in the map depicted a crease in the sea, the ship had to weigh anchor. The captain forced the navigator to row a dinghy through the line, to reckon its effects.
Meanwhile, in the galley, the cook was creating a bouillabaisse—conger eel, sea robins, fennel, cod bones, bouquet garni, saffron, mussels, olive oil, garlic, white wine, smoke of the afterlife, French bread, cayenne pepper, little neck clams, tomato paste, and Thibault, the very lobster that was conducted through the streets of Paris by Gérard de Nerval.
Concurrently, the navigator was remembering a poem about a boy who thought the crescent moon was a broken moon and the stars were its pieces. He could smell the soup. At least, he thought, as the water began to churn, I’ll have something good to eat tonight.
Peter Jay Shippy is the author of Thieves’ Latin, Alphaville, How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic, and A Spell of Songs. His 5th book, Kaputniks, will be published by Saturnalia Books in 2021. About A Spell of Songs, John Yau wrote: “One day, not long ago, Meret Oppenheim walked past Edward Hopper in Paris, and an electric current passed between, and from that current was born Peter Jay Shippy.…” Shippy has received fellowships in drama and poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2002 he won the Iowa Poetry Prize and in 2005 he received a Gertrude Stein award for innovative poetry. In 2009 Shippy received the Governor’s Citation for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. He has published widely, including The American Poetry Review, The Boston Globe, Iowa Review and Ploughshares. Shippy teaches literature and writing at Emerson College in Boston.