I am deeply honored to have been selected as a recipient of an NEA Poetry Fellowship. This recognition and the resources it provides will help me focus more fully on my poetry and assist in the development of several writing projects in progress. I thank the NEA for the faith it has expressed in my work.
At auction I buy two dozen mannequins and set them around the house. I give each a name and dress them in tuxedos. Gowns. Work clothes. Pajamas. I set a few in front of the television. Two at the kitchen table. A man on the toilet. A woman in the shower. Four on the lawn with croquet mallets. At night vandals arrange them in obscene positions. But I don't mind. I'm glad they're interested. Two mannequins lie naked in the spare bedroom staring up at the ceiling. One dangles by his neck from a rope in the workshop. Pull him once--the garage door opens. Pull him again--it closes. The rest are stacked in the purgatory of my closet. My neighbors think I'm a pervert. My mother doesn't believe in psychiatrists but makes an exception in this case. Last week the police searched the place and left laughing. When my lover arrives she calls them by their proper names. She brings a new hat for one. A paisley scarf for another. Then she turns the lights out and stands quite still among them. I know which one she is. But I play along with her little game.
David Shumate is the author of High Water Mark (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004), winner of the 2003 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and the 2004 Best Books of Indiana, poetry category. His second collection of prose poems, The Floating Bridge, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2008. His poetry has appeared widely in literary journals and has been anthologized in The Writer's Almanac, Good Poems for Hard Times, and The Best American Poetry 2007. He teaches at Marian College in Indianapolis and lives in Zionsville, Indiana.
Photo by Carol Shumate