Shevaun Brannigan


The road a run over skunk’s tail.
The garbage truck’s mouth is open,
a mattress stuck in its teeth.

Beneath my lone figure, bedbugs bred
on my DC box spring. I meant
to wrap it in plastic, instead dragged it

to the curb and kept walking. Sometimes
I’m a good person. I let other cars ahead,
I use my signal in the lot.

The garbage truck makes frequent stops.
Who doesn’t? One lasted eight years.
We’re all full of discards. To be

rinsed, empty bottles stacked in paper bags
is all I’ve wanted. The wind passing
over my mouth and I’d sing. Oh tender

raccoon mask of railroad crossing sign,
the X of don’t, of possibility, of here,
of intersection, of four people arriving

at the same time and staring ahead
forgetting the rules, I let other cars ahead,
I put my hazards on, I climb out

and lie at the side of the road,
still as a deer resting her head
on the curb, too tired to close her eyes.

Bear breaks into house, plays the piano but not very well

Well I lumber home with my keys outstretched,
I wipe my mouth, tug at the waist of my pants,

mutter, shuffle through fallen leaves, hunched figurine,
woman at the end of her day.

Inside, I squint at the overhead lights, I rip open
a plastic bag, knotted shut for why? a hamburger bun

makes a mouth within my mouth. The cat
winds about my legs, I wave it away.

That day I’d tried to be a good person, I smiled
on the subway, I turned my head to cough.

The bear burst out the home by pummeling a wall
with its body until it broke. I feel both bear

and cracking wall, the moment of impact between.
That I might escape, though from what—


Who doesn’t love art. A bear
might have played scales and people would have

cried faster, each morning
I dress, brush my teeth, go slower down the stairs.

Inside, my feral unconscious
wants praise for all the pretending I do,

the standing in lines,
the grooming too,

each morning that I leave the den of our bed,
instead of climbing on top of you,

my southpaw, my mate,
berries bursting in our mouths one note at a time.


My sky is a real prom queen,
she’s got these taffeta layers,
that pink hue, a golden crown.
Everyone loves her, even the farmers
praying for rain.
Frank, nineteen miles west, stares out
the windshield at gray, bulbous clouds,
bus drivers’ pants, bunched at the seats.
We talk so long, the prom queen unzips,
the gray clouds thin,
color unfurls from the east like ribbon.
Home, we hold each other,
the white swatch of ceiling looms
as heaven. In the rafters, mating squirrels.
The squeals!

Shevaun Brannigan’s work has appeared in such journals as Best New Poets, AGNI, and Slice. She is a recipient of a Barbara J. Deming Fund grant, and holds an MFA from Bennington College.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.