divine magnet





Shannon Burns


For My Dad (Oosh Boosh)

He was a big fan of mine

and died, so I permitted

myself to go to bed at 8:05.

8:05 was a good bedtime

for me not so long ago, it seems. So

Bedtime somewhere

said my bones and clinked each other.

My bones are unlike most

in their suspension in jammy stuff

their movement and sometimes touching by chance

And in my head the control center

it’s a puffy bloody water wheel and no brain

And my appendix on the left side or whatever

And my wig is able to grow.

He saw all these things and thought more

of me and died.

Can those who will outlive me

come forward and help me

with this cold sunny day – this idiotic yellow day –

Help me confront the sunny winter day –

Help me to not close my eyes in it –

Help to keep memories apart from dreams in it –

Help me give the wild dead a nice place to live in it,

things to do, the feeling of being needed in it.


The Present

How do I face the whole rest of my life

when it’s taken me so long just to find this boiled egg?

[holds up boiled egg]

In the sumptuous Italian countryside

I climbed up on a tree stump and basked

in the present moment – whatever moment

was the present moment at the time –

until my family came

and pulled me down

and sent me back to school…

[turns away, as if toward Europe]

Shhh, now I’m remembering a prayer I used to say

I wished peace for myself

my best friend

a stranger

& an enemy –

I prayed it in college

the stranger always

the same blond boy I’d seen.

[ignores nosebleed]

In the garden once with my father,

I watched him pick a perfect tomato.

If I were a tomato, he said,

That’s what I would look like.

[lies down]

Has it been four years? I ask an old friend at dinner.

It has been two. My friend, it feels like two times two.

[spits ice cubes onto the table]


They Failed Us

so we showed them Bavarian architecture

so we posed them in musty gowns

so we slid them down shiny pews

so we made their lives more difficult

so we opened all their little pots of creams

so we took their hands and looked into their eyes

so we made them masters of their own destinies

so we cast balletic shadows over their experiences

so pale blossoms fell in front of our faces

so we put our socked feet in their laps

so we let things take their natural course

so we pointed insistently to the sunset

so we drove away quickly in buggies

so we touched them with wet bikinis

so we drew ab muscles on them

so we heard them whisper something

so we gave them cruelly small crowns