Pippi Longstocking, by Cyrus Console

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Pippi Longstocking


It happened sometimes you asked me
To play with you or differentiate
Between black birds or help find
Three things wrong and I said no
Grackles sing like old springs or a clock
Falling down stairs I take it back
And said nothing for a mile and a half

The song more resembles
A characteristic noise that tin makes
The element when it is bent
A bar of tin will cry until it breaks
A child might grow unnaturally strong
Wandering alone among the deceased
Family’s possessions in its house

Mr. Nilsson the monkey is represented
As clutching a tin cup with both hands
The porch where it is contented to remain
Shelters a horse with no name
When I was a child it was said
Such and such were the only nonhuman
Animals accustomed to grief or mourning

Pippi is about your age and like her
If ever you should need something
I speak here purely of commodities
There is a mass of white money
Understood as persistent in the solid phase
In a suitcase on top of the wardrobe
To which you may repair indefinitely

My legacy to you in a bubble economy
Together with the poems I want
You to consider as most significant
Among three hobbies I pursued
In a kingdom whose only valuable sectors
Work diminished and degraded utterly
And where you got free lunch at school

They threaten to stabilize in the mode of lament
I have been all your life overcoming
And which perhaps needs no explaining
The sea chest in the attic moonbeam
Discloses a sword and three pistols
And the nightshirt I wore in life
Which might be taken in for you

You are seven but children’s literature
At present can no longer accommodate
Two small brothers hemmed in by flames
In the window of a high triangular wall
The quip children should never handle firearms
As you present Tommy and Annika with revolvers
Look the illustrator renders Nilsson as ink

With paper-white eyes not at all as it is done
The shower of sparks over the groaning crowd
The tramps wink at each other then enter
At nightfall through an unlocked kitchen door
I believe there is a reason for this though
Whether we have told ourselves a kind of lie
Or whether we imagine it all so clearly

As the temporary wound cavity lofted
By the slug traversing a schoolboy’s belly
That it no longer moves us to laughter I can’t say
Much that Pippi’s world restricted to caricature
Has since crossed the uncanny valley into our own
Nilsson’s water cup he drains and afterward
Places atop his head like a cap or crown

Unbraided for the coffee party
Red hair encircles her visage like a mane
A little radiation is unavoidable she says
Thankfully the disaster meant everyone
Was already under orders to stay home
By the time wildfires in the Zone of Alienation
And in the State Radioecological Reserve

Unfurled luminous soot over Europe
I believe everything happens for a reason
I do it principally to teach you to do it
But in Japan there is a vault of ice they need
To keep cool for three thousand centuries
If humankind is to go on providing meals
For my father the cannibal king

Though you may never exceed what you did
Without apparent effort as a child of six
If you keep at it you will be a real artist
Say to yourself money is a gas whose pressure
Is the average velocity of coins and it suffices
To rigidify structures of increasing complexity and scale
Say you regarded the Settergren family as real

Sister trying on surnames in a fine hand
Brother clasping and unclasping his birthday knife
Mother wiping clean the glass eyes almost
As dark as the circle of very black paint
Marking Father’s nose as a tin pipe
Proper to the emotionally distant man
I believed there was a reason for this

And then this annoying thing had to happen
That he was blown into the ocean
And Pippi came into the house to begin
Waiting for him to return which was
A frame of mind that offered no way out
But which instructs a concept of bad faith

Evoking pity rather than contempt
It happened sometimes you asked me
To play with you and I said no
But this will be the last time
And these are the black shoes precisely
Twice the length of her feet
Which her father bought her in Santiago
So that you would have something to grow into

 lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

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