c o n v e r g e n c e:
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EDITOR'S CHOICE: cynthia linville's

Daniel M. Shapiro

After the Prom  by Myles Boisen
After the Prom by Myles Boisen


by Daniel M. Shapiro

is a well-known actor. You know her;
she helps make your life better.
In E-Z Crimp, she showed you
what the world was like full frizz.
You should see the letters she gets
from people who love the X-Press,
people who thank her for agonizing
in a creased shirt so they don’t have to.
At the grocery store, everyone always asks
to see The Face, a deep freeze of anguish,
fists entrenched, clawing at lush golden hair.

I don’t get to see my wife very often.
She works such long, long hours—
oh so much to sell!—and usually
comes home well after my bedtime.
Never able to sleep, she turns on the TV,
which becomes a mirror of the frazzled,
as she waits all night to find an infomercial
for The Insominator, that product for which
she longs to be the After, if only just this once.


by Daniel M. Shapiro

The chalky white Ford drives past the house
again and again and again. He didn’t think
to look for the birdbath, the signature,
what kept this place different from those
of old, those that matched one another
like Grandpop’s wingtips and felt fedora.

He must’ve seen Ed waving frantically
through the window on the sixth pass
because he made it that time, even though
he hadn’t been invited in the first place.
But old Oscar always had stories to tell,
and stories got paid for with ham and beer.

“Hey, Oscar!” Ed shouted at his old friend
who used to work with him on jet airplanes.
“Oh, I can’t eat,” Oscar said. “I already done et.”
But Grandmom’s cooking lures wolves from
wherever wolves are at, and soon the old man
had his plate covered with the best fats and starches.

“I been to Sacramento,” he said in an Arkansan twang.
“It’s B’YOO-tiful there. Ev’ry one’s got a lawn there.
All you need’s a lawn, a woman with a strong back,
and a pack of Chesterfields. You’ll do all right, yeah.”
Then that famous smile blossomed, a rowdy collection
of teeth picked up on the road from Little Rock to Yuma.

Oscar and Ed talked for 12 hours straight, acting like
they were filibustering all the bills of the land. Laughs
emerged, like old coal cars spinning through the mines,
whirring, trying to find some control, never coming back.
“Let me get my bypass tomorrow,” Oscar shouted out.
“I’m gonna be havin’ fun tonight, you better believe.”

In the early morning, the men fell asleep in their chairs,
hunched bones blending into the hardest wood.
They dreamt of the days when they built engines,
the kind that never wore out. Some of them still run.
Some of them still burn fuel like you wouldn’t imagine,
swallowing hard, as if Grandmom’s cooking their last meal.


by Daniel M. Shapiro

The composer crafts his distinctive template, a slick mix of syncopated jazz piano and flawless drumming, freeze-dried gloss to keep Reagan’s hair in place. It would synchronize perfectly with Dustin Hoffman’s uptight “Tootsie” walk, convince us an unquestionable man could dress up women’s lib. It would whittle Henry Fonda’s monster dad down to darling old poop, toe-tappingly strip lasting impressions from De Niro and Streep.

As Iran-Contra hearings spew from his TV, Grusin begins to envision the score for “A Dry White Season,” the anti-apartheid coda, black justice defined by white courage. Turning down the sound, he extracts glorious chords from the keyboard, making Oliver North a patriot.

Daniel Shapiro

Daniel M. Shapiro

Daniel M. Shapiro is a schoolteacher who lives in Pittsburgh. He is the author of The 44th-Worst Album Ever (NAP), Teeth Underneath (Foothills Publishing), and a forthcoming collection of celebrity prose poems (sunnyoutside press). He is also co-author of Interruptions (Pecan Grove Press), a collection of collaborations with Jessy Randall. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, RHINO, Sentence, and Forklift, Ohio.

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