Issue 14

Poetry: Shevaun Brannigan

Hitler Disapproves

of the makeup, smoking, the nude sun-bathing.
Today Eva wears an open umbrella, in a confused game

of paper dolls. And shoes, long legs, carefully curled bangs,
an odd smile, like someone has said something mean

and she’s not sure she can laugh. Eva always laughed.
Eva never did. Contradictions. But who can dispute a bullet

to the chest but G-d, and who can escape an overdose like Eva?
(Don’t complicate things with answers. Don’t make this

personal.) Her heart beats Rienzi with its murmur.
Of her two small dogs she has a favorite, and if Mengele points left

she looks away. Eva lives only for Hitler’s love, she writes,
she swears to follow him anywhere. Hopefully to a good party,

but even death will do, and does. In Hell, the two start to squabble.
Eva’s makeup melts away and this makes her angry, prone to argue.

It’s just too hot for clothes, but Hitler doesn’t understand this.
Eva wants him home more, promises to dress if he will stay, but he

finds Hell so much more cramped, there’s no way to be alone.
Eva’s dinners always burn, her parties end early if they start, and

smoking is frowned upon. She is frowned upon. But every time
she ties the noose to a stalactite, the knot slips through. All the guns

belong to angels, and anyway, what good would they do?
Just scar her, and that happened long ago.


I know your heart beats like a jellyfish.
I know you want to be buried.

I picture that slow pull of tide to shore
until there is nothing to guide you forward
but memory, the knowledge that
something is wrong.

Tonight the moon is caught
in the sky’s net, with smaller fish
called stars.

The fossils of jellyfish look like
the moon’s surface, its craters made
by their bells.

It’s a study in absence.

At least you are luminescent.
I can see your heart glowing
through the membrane of your skin.
I can see it dim.

I was an accident

in the way a two-car collision, an SUV sideswiping a taxi, where the cab driver gets a broken nose, the passenger dies, and the SUV, the instigator, is left unscathed save for future financial suckage, in the way that this collision would be described as an accident. Not an on purpose, not a planned baby, though my mother likes to say we were talking about having you, but she just says this to be nice, because who wants a broken nose? And by broken nose I mean I hurled a bottle of floor cleanser at her back, call her a C-U-Next-Tuesday on a regular basis, and, as if that was not enough, wrote poems about her as though I was the victim. Of course she couldn’t have known this would happen, when I arrived so suspiciously Asian. My father stared at the male nurse in fury until my skin reddened (never to cool). Now, looking back on it, he calls me an expensive baby, saying this typically when I have just asked for $320 because I really need it. Oh there were good things of course. Every accident gives someone a story to tell, the shaken passerby with their elaborate hand gestures (think: my sister in therapy). And once my mother and I picked dandelions and blew their seeds at each other as the world around us yellowed from a setting sun. Or when my just-woken father wore the pastel barrettes I had placed so carefully in his hair to pick up our pizza at Jerry’s, and came home laughing about my antics instead of punching a hole in the wall. But there I go again—trying to get the biggest piece of the trauma pie. It would be better if I were honest with you. We’ll get out the charts, the mini cars, the State Farm agent, and determine fault here. It’s going to be a long one. If I were you, I’d grab a chair.

Get to Know Me

I take a monomolecular wire,
press it lightly against my throat, then
pull, slicing my flesh in a neat scoop,
as one cleans a cantaloupe rind with a spoon.

This chunk holds my voice,
the words I am not happy.
It all makes a mess at my feet.

And I keep a small child in my brain,
in the way a hoarder can’t part with objects
from her past. This child speaks in sunbursts,
she interrupts others by laughing.

Maybe I am haunted, or crazy.
Maybe thunder is not really my father’s voice,
but a naturally occurring phenomenon
called This is What You Get.