After the Diagnosis

I want to be a victim

of murder-by-mistake–

the bullet intended

for a head honcho or thief,

a drug dealer zig-zagging

across the square when

a trigger gets squeezed

one second too late.

Or the bullet meets me

in a ricochet, a matter

of precise geometry

no marksman can replicate.

Blood blooms like a hollyhock

through my shirt,

and I’m gone before medics

roll me over, bare arms akimbo

and hair strewn and tangled,

left eyetooth chipped.

Just let me get murdered

simply by mistake,

the target escaping due

to a quick pivot,

a scenario more fair

than intention conducted

by a skulking intruder.

And it supersedes a death

due to jealousy,

that melodrama old

as the hills;

more sleek than a snuff

by disease’s slow creep,

or the elongated languish

in some ghostly ward,

hair gossamer fluff,

eyes rheumy-red,

my only raison d’etre

a Pop Tart 3 o’clock.

Don’t want to witness

systems going kaput –

first the twinge, eternal

ache, then atrophy;

evenings waiting in vain

for a great-grandson to call

while a fluke such as this

will bring folks in droves

from Poughkeepsie, Berlin,

Coeur D’Alene, and Seville.

They’ll brag how we shared

a recipe or blue jeans, switch-

backs through the Smokies,

a high school crush.

Parents will forgive every flaw

for which they cursed me;

colleagues wish they’d kept

that book I autographed;

friends regret they never offered

their home on the Atlantic.

Murder me, someone, purely

by mistake.

Even enemies will think

it tragic.

He Wants You Back

I can’t pretend to know

what you will say to her

this time, the pages of her

cookbook on our shelf

curling in memory of her

fingertips; the foliage

of the ficus in the corner–

a birthday present to her

last year– going even greener

now; the socks she knit

in back hall boots ready

to jump up and pogo

over to her house.

I did not know in our first six

months together that this

would go on during our

marriage, during her

marriage, during all the child-

rearing years; that your mother

would receive greeting cards

and souvenirs from trips

to Wyoming and five-hour visits

from her even after we all

reached retirement, and although

this ex does not call you

from her car or barn loft

or fire escape, I feel the pulse

in wires strung between sycamores.

I hear your mother’s quest for

your uptake on her reports;

a telephone ringing–insistent,

persistent and shrill into our

houses, kitchen after kitchen.

Shoshauna Shy's poems have recently been published by Creative Wisconsin, San Pedro River Review, Cerasus Magazine, and Poetry Breakfast. One of her poems was longlisted for the Fish Publishing Poetry Prize 2022, and in 2023, the poem “Not Wanting to Meet My Birth Mother” was a finalist in the annual contest of Naugatuck River Review. Her poems have been made into video, produced inside taxi cabs, and even decorated the hind quarters of city buses.