​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

daniel m. shapiro

Hypnotize Me Through

His days form a circumference, radius drawn from eye contact. He speaks only of running, of escaping the beams. Eventually, the light from each outside eye becomes a woman. He had always wanted two, wanted to show them what he could do with one finger on a key. His nerves make him slip into the dark space where mirrors don’t see. Ultimately, he reappears, unable to isolate himself from his own reflections. The women half-smile, wishing they’d put on makeup for someone other than themselves, for someone who would dare to leave the circle. Only when they return to the stars does he try to run to them, but the formula won’t allow. Leaving the center would trip the shriek of sirens. The ratio must remain the same, proportions intact. No one stays long enough to touch.

*The title is a lyric from “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls (#9 on Billboard Hot 100, 1982)

​I'll Call My Own Shots, Thank You

​She tells Mom and Dad she wants out, wants to ride a trapeze into fire. This is what is called independence. When she leaves her girlhood home, men in dusters and hats, men in dusters, hats, and sunglasses arrive. They all talk the same like they’re friends. Like human men who aren’t around anymore, they joke with her about her body, take her somewhere in a classic car, take her to the stage. They disappear to eat the flesh of near-extinct birds, reappear on the fringe. She is the center, the earpiece and mouthpiece combined. The men like friends like men play mobile instruments. She tells everyone who’s in charge. They know. They remember getting lost in all the lakes, her throwing them a raft of melody. She treats them like friends, lets them joke with her about her body. She turns into a clock so they can keep time, swivels her hips to keep the planet from standing still. When she slides left, they slide left. This is the new equilibrium. When she pops and locks, they pop and lock. This is the new eclipse. When she bows, they applaud. This is the new moon, the new tide.


*The title is a lyric from “Control” by Janet Jackson (co-written with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, #5 on Billboard Hot 100, 1987)

And the World and the World

After the seas dried out, the last pirate who ever lived rolled a barrel of saltwater he had seized, stopped only to spray his body so he wouldn’t die. A pirate who steals the sea puts himself out of business. He collected smoothed coral, skull hats, microphone stands. A pirate who gives away the earth isn’t worth his weight. He could eat rotting fish because true scavengers side-eye bacteria. A pirate cleans up only for the open casket. He danced by kicking his good leg into the sand, sang through a hole no longer used for breathing. A pirate sees the beauty of the world through a patched eye. He forgot which letter marked the spot, remembered when waves had turned to snowsqualls overnight. A pirate makes songs out of hollow bodies. His big score was a single pearl in 41 million square miles of empty shells. A pirate sees a flash of gold before he drowns. When his barrel ran out, the pearl rested in his open hand, a blindfold nailed to the plank.

*The title is a lyric from “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult (#15 on UK Singles Chart, 1985)

Daniel M. Shapiro is a special education teacher who lives in Pittsburgh. His book of celebrity-centered poems, How the Potato Chip Was Invented, was published by sunnyoutside press on New Year's Eve 2013.