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Brenda Shaughnessy

  • Compulsion is always narcissism: / I miss you, admit it.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "What's Uncanny," Interior With Sudden Joy ()
  • Perfection is the campsite for those who have stopped halfway. / I've melted my silver for you.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Transpassional," Interior With Sudden Joy ()
  • ... but I have noodles and wine and a nice singing voice. If you / came back I could make you / a necklace.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Transpassional," Interior With Sudden Joy ()
  • ... the uncomfortable position of telling the truth, / like the lotus, can't be held long.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Dear Gonglya," Interior With Sudden Joy ()
  • I can't believe you've come back, / like the train I missed so badly, barely, / which stopped & returned for me. It scared me, / humming backwards along the track.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Rise," Interior With Sudden Joy ()
  • I am less than one. / More than two. I laugh / at the ways to count a person.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Illumine," Interior With Sudden Joy ()
  • I live to leave, but I never either. / ... / Come, let us miss / another wintertime.

  • I don't like what the moon is supposed to do. / Confuse me, ovulate me, / spoon-feed me longing. A kind of ancient/ date-rape drug. So I'll howl at you, moon, / I'm angry.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "I'm Over the Moon," Human Dark With Sugar ()
  • How long do I try to get water from a stone? / It's like having a bad boyfriend in a good band.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "I'm Over the Moon," Human Dark With Sugar ()
  • Calculation is such subtraction, / always figuring what's under / what's under, to break the surface / of the negative realm down / where the wheels don't skid.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Magic Turns to Math and Back," Human Dark With Sugar ()
  • It's this 'every night' business / I have issues with. I can't waste another / third of my life drooling, snuffling, / spilling secrets from my honking mouth. / I'm selling the bed.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Old Bed," Human Dark With Sugar ()
  • Saying 'There's no one like me' / accomplishes the exact opposite / of what you mean. / It is true only insofar as it is true / for everyone equally. / So it means you are not special / in any way. Which should be enough for you.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Embarrassment," Human Dark With Sugar ()
  • Trees move / at least as much as we do, / if only their heads and arms.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "A Brown Age," Human Dark With Sugar ()
  • I will be the mother who / never hurt you, and you will have your / childhood back in full blossom, / whole hog. We might not know / who we are at first, there, without / our terrible pain.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • title poem, Our Andromeda ()
  • And here we are again: / no cake without breaking / eggs, unless it's a vegan cake / in which there are never any eggs / only the issue, the question, / the primacy of eggs, / which remains even in animal-free / foods, eaten by animal-free / humans in an inhumane world.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "Streetlamps," Our Andromeda ()
  • You'd pass me on the street/ As well, a 'normal,' / Someone who traded / In her essentials for / A look of haunted / Responsibility.

    • Brenda Shaughnessy,
    • "To My Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self," Our Andromeda ()

Brenda Shaughnessy, U.S. poet

(1970)