Michael Naghten Shanks

Three poems

The Tablecloth Trick

I give myself some time, four minutes say,
to chew over what I’ve proposed to do.

(Perhaps you see how this will play out…)

Pacing slowly around the busy table, stopping here
and here, to place a piece of cutlery at a certain angle,
as if hoping to fool myself into thinking: This will help!

“The turkey is almost ready,” says my girlfriend’s mother,
returning from her kitchen with a bowl of steaming broccoli.

I feel the cotton collapse like dead hummingbirds
between my fingers and thumbs as I make a mental note
to comment on how beautifully ironed it is, was.


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