008.2: Chris Shipman:: Bio 008

The opening of Chris Shipman's poem "Bio" could be the opening of a novel or short story: "I come from a small town in a dry county." But something happens to the narrator as he goes in search of a liquor store. He hears something, and everything changes. The story falls away leaving us with words on a page unbuttressed by plot. What we are left with, all that we are really ever left with in a piece of writing, is that voice staggering through the woods. Periodically, like the narrator, we are lucky, and that voice reaches us. Andrew Wessels


I come from a small town in a dry county. On a trip to the liquor store at the county line seven summers ago, I turned down the radio, rolled down my window, and heard a voice stagger through the pines. I’m still trying to listen. I used all the q-tips in the world and my ears fluffed full of cotton. I stuck my head in the river and fish swam through quick as silence. The only thing I could think about was that I didn’t know the names of the birds that sang outside my window! I still don’t. But I went back to town and got drunk and fell in love with the first girl I saw.