Head Handed

By Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970 Brenda Shaughnessy
Stop belonging to me so much, face-head.
Leave me to my child and my flowers.

I can’t run with you hanging on to me like that.
It’s like having ten dogs on a single lead

and no talent for creatures.
No hands, no trees. Not my dogs, nobody’s.

Don’t you have a place to go, face-head?
Deep into the brick basement of another life?

To kill some time, I mean. That furnace
light could take a shine to you.

There are always places, none of them mine.
And always time—rainbow sugar show

of jimmies falling from ice cream’s sky—
but that stuff’s extra, it’s never in supply.

“Never,” however, acres of it. Violet beans
and sarcasm. Too many flavors of it.

All those prodigal particles,
flimsily whimsical miracles, an embarrassment

of glitches. The chorus just more us.
But nowhere bare and slippery have I

got a prayer. If I had two hands
to rub together I wouldn’t waste the air.

Source: Poetry (September 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2011
 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet

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