Two Poems By Brenda Shaughnessy

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

This Person-sized Sky with Bruise,

simultaneously orange and violet,
(though my eyes are closed) is

either my inner color (that covered mirror)
or simply dusk.

An opaline sheet
pulled because the night is ashamed

to come in front of everyone,
blacking out in joy.

Too shy to spill its milk on the stained
tablecloth of strangers

like I have. When it’s finally dark
outside, it’s finally

loose inside and the doubleness
of things seems too true to be good:

my way and the highway.
Night. It has two hands

I can use. Its fingers in a plum
too ripe not to split.

I had to split it. It was so much
itself — bloody flesh,

wild purple skin. A fistful
so lush it was almost imaginary,

smelling of love, it didn’t matter whose.

The Seven Deadly Sins of (and Necessary Steps Toward) Making Art

Pure art is, in a sense, pure innocence.
But artists are, in themselves, putrid with paradox.

The following seven sins/steps should help the wretched
to remember: the pitfalls are the progress!

1. Deadlines

Aka Avalanche Everlasting,
Opportunity Oppression.
“You will miss me then I’m gone….”

All at once a million kinds of calendar.

2. Motivation

Ask yourself: What is my longing?
Answer yourself: I long for the world, in the form
of a person, which is me,
in the form of a new world,
in the form of a new person,
which is the new me, in the form…
ad infinitum.

3. Goals

Stop staring out that old woman’s window like a cat.

4. Distinguishing between “Saying” and “Doing”

“Everyone dies.”
is different than
“Everyone died.”

5. Self-Absorption

This inner spinning, that petty city
the mind built,

robs the psalm of its robe of calm,
my naked voice thin and shrill in the wind.

6. Delusions of Grandeur

I’m such a fraud,
I can’t even convince you
of my fraudulence.

7. Everyday Magic!

The new burn on my knuckle,
white, shiny, raised:

our dinner’s afterlife, lingering ghost.

Brenda Shaughnessy is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers-Newark. Her third collection, Our Andromeda, is just out from Copper Canyon Press.

Soon it will be autumn. Your life, however imperceptibly, will change. The best way to cope with that is through the consolation of poetry. Fortunately for you, and the person you will become this fall, we’ve got a big ol’ mess of poetry right here for you.You may contact the editor at