by Mary Szybist

I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn.—Marcel Duchamp           

I had the happy idea to suspend some blue globes in the air

and watch them pop.

I had the happy idea to put my little copper horse on the shelf so we could stare at each other

all evening.

I had the happy idea to create a void in myself.

Then to call it natural.

Then to call it supernatural.

I had the happy idea to wrap a blue scarf around my head and spin.

I had the happy idea that somewhere a child was being born who was nothing like Helen or

Jesus except in the sense of changing everything.

I had the happy idea that someday I would find both pleasure and punishment, that I would

know them and feel them,

and that, until I did, it would be almost as good to pretend.

I had the happy idea to call myself happy.

I had the happy idea that the dog digging a hole in the yard in the twilight had his nose deep in


I had the happy idea that what I do not understand is more real than what I do,

and then the happier idea to buckle myself

into two blue velvet shoes.

I had the happy idea to polish the reflecting glass and say

hello to my own blue soul. Hello, blue soul. Hello.
It was my happiest idea.

Photo: Blue mirror ball, available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Szybist‘s poetry collection Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013) was the recipient of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry, and her collection of poems, Granted (Alice James Books, 2003) won the 2003 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books, the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. Szybist’s poetry has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, AGNI, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, Poetry, Tin House, and The Kenyon Review, and The Best American Poetry 2008. Szybist is an assistant professor of English at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon and a member of the faculty at the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.