You weren’t allowed to remember. They brought us to the gallery, split our faces across canvases. They made us dress identically, ties tucked into shirts to keep us from choking on engines. We were placed on a giant’s flayed skin, told to walk through fields of hair. You were made to look pretty, less manly, the lamb that hides its fangs. They laughed when you tried to shake your shadow. We kept looking up to see if the source of light was a way out. They said we could leave once we’d made babies from dust and clay, babies to learn from videos that looped. Pieces of our past dripped on the floor among the cigarette butts, the broken bottles. Your face froze at points of impact. They told us not to worry, that others would soon replace us. Others would shake up the art we had made, a snow globe with a hole. We would get to look back fondly, to channel the mantra of an empty room.
*Title is a lyric from “Is There Something I Should Know?” by Duran Duran (#1 on UK Singles Chart, 1983).
When Every Choice That I Make Is Yours
In the beginning, one light shined down an alley, painted the outlines of moot architecture. When the band appeared—in white suits, with white instruments, in a white room—we rejoiced in the new art, farewell to the squint. We celebrated the black hat’s transition to white rabbit, a lone speaker of words. Everyone else reveled in the nonverbal, turned their fatalism to sign language. They dressed alike, practiced aerobics, choreographed the lift of airships. We ignored the one casualty, the woman blinded by sunglasses, her mouth sewn shut. She appeared at the party for a millisecond, keeping complete sentences locked up, leaving her name out of the song.
*Title is a lyric from “Talk Talk” by Talk Talk (#23 on UK Singles Chart, 1982).
Made to Be Played by My Hands
Everyone besides you learns to look in the mirror for reflections of what they’ve never been. You see only the horror of a pretty face that won’t change. You wake from a nightmare, take the four-measure pause to believe what you lived wasn’t real. You peek through the blinds to pinch yourself but glimpse a tiger, a stereotype. To give back to the fans, you let women pose for pictures with your childhood. You smile as they run their fingers through what’s left of REM sleep. You let go of the accent as if it were your first love. You can’t talk in dreams because a guitar solo screams through your mouth, your wax figure O. You know mirrors hide what it means to be alone because people laugh at you on the other side, people who reflect. You see the most of yourself in what you lose.
*Title is a lyric from “Affair of the Heart” by Rick Springfield (#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. His recent work has appeared in Across the Margin, Menacing Hedge, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Hermeneutic Chaos, Newfound, andelsewhere. He is a special education teacher who lives in Pittsburgh.