Artless

By Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970 Brenda Shaughnessy
is my heart. A stranger
berry there never was,
tartless.
 
Gone sour in the sun,
in the sunroom or moonroof,
roofless.
 
No poetry. Plain. No
fresh, special recipe
to bless.
 
All I’ve ever made
with these hands
and life, less
 
substance, more rind.
Mostly rim and trim,
meatless
 
but making much smoke
in the old smokehouse,
no less.
 
Fatted from the day,
overripe and even
toxic at eve. Nonetheless,
 
in the end, if you must
know, if I must bend,
waistless,
 
to that excruciation.
No marvel, no harvest
left me speechless,
 
yet I find myself
somehow with heart,
aloneless.
 
With heart,
fighting fire with fire,
fightless.
 
That loud hub of us,
meat stub of us, beating us
senseless.
 
Spectacular in its way,
its way of not seeing,
congealing dayless
 
but in everydayness.
In that hopeful haunting
(a lesser
 
way of saying
in darkness) there is
silencelessness
 
for the pressing question.
Heart, what art you?
War, star, part? Or less:
 
playing a part, staying apart
from the one who loves,
loveless.

Brenda Shaughnessy, “Artless” from Our Andromeda. Copyright © 2012 by Brenda Shaughnessy. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Love, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet

 Brenda  Shaughnessy

Biography

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, and Our Andromeda (2012). Her work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, among other places. With C.J. Evans, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.