Dear Gonglya,

By Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970 Brenda Shaughnessy
The most inscrutable beautiful names in this world
always do sound like diseases.
It’s because they are engorged.
G., I am a fool.
What we feel in the solar plexus wrecks us.
Halfway squatting on a crate where feeling happened. Caresses.

You know corporeal gifts besmirch thieves like me.
But she plucks a feather and my steam escapes.
                                                We’re awake
each night at pennymoon and we micro and necro.
I can’t stop. But love and what-all:
the uncomfortable position of telling the truth,
like the lotus, can’t be held long.
                                               If she knew would she
just take all her favors from my marmalade
vessel and chuck them back
into the endless reversible garment which is my life—
                                               an astonishing vanishing.
G., I know this letter is like a slice of elevator accident.
As smart folk would say,
“Everything is only Nothing’s Truck.”

I would revise it and say that everything is only
nothing, truncated.


Your Igor

Brenda Shaughnessy, “Dear Gonglya,” from Interior with Sudden Joy. Copyright © 1999 by Brenda Shaughnessy.  Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: Interior with Sudden Joy (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1999)

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Poet Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Relationships, Love, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Desire, Unrequited Love

Poetic Terms Epistle

 Brenda  Shaughnessy


Brenda Shaughnessy earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MFA from Columbia University. She is the author of Interior with Sudden Joy (1999), Human Dark with Sugar (2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, Our Andromeda (2012), and So Much Synth (2016). Her work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, among other . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Desire, Unrequited Love

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Epistle

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