Brenda Shaughnessy

“Artless”- a poem by Brenda Shaughnessy


is my heart. A stranger

berry there never was,


Gone sour in the sun,

in the sunroom or moonroof,


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,


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,


to that excruciation.

No marvel, no harvest

left me speechless,

yet I find myself

somehow with heart,


With heart,

fighting fire with fire,


That loud hub of us,

meat stub of us, beating us


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


for the pressing question.

Heart, what art you?

War, star, part? Or less:

playing a part, staying apart

from the one who loves,


This is one of my favourite poems of all time by contemporary poet Brenda Shaughnessy. She has published three poetry collections: Our Andromeda, Human Dark with Sugar, and Interior with Sudden Joy. I have them all. I highly recommend you buy Brenda’s books or at least google for some of her poems published around the internet.

brenda shaughnessy

I’m never going back to Shakespeare as long as her collections rest on my bedside drawers.


2 thoughts on ““Artless”- a poem by Brenda Shaughnessy

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