the poetry that matters

Pamela O’Shaughnessy

Pamela O’Shaughnessy’s first book of poems, Flying at Sea-Level, was published in 2006 by Cross-Creek Press. She is a novelist by trade and an Orzel Collective member experimenting with transtextual poetry. She is a Board member of Poetry Santa Cruz and a moderator on The Critical Poet, an online poetry site.

Auschwitz Three Times

After Auschwitz, to write a poem is barbaric.
-- Adorno


I have a strong desire to confess my secrets which I see stamped upon the plain like giants' feet, but these signs are indecipherable to the people

have a throat-closing desire
to fall in love with anyone
when I finally relax, I fall into it like sleep

have a strong desire to kick you in the ass you, reading so seriously, ha ha, sliding into it

read this laughing and masturbating

enso expanding
zorro and his horse
leap through flaming enso
but there's no other side
no elegant algebraic balance
nothing the mind can handle
still zorro settles there
opens a portal for rustlers and strippers

this superb 21st century pastel
depicts forested Waimanalo Beach
Mokulua Islands in the background
long shadows very relaxing

beginning at the left, a long
skinny tree in a high heel shoe
then two big trunks obviously fucking
groins joined on every ironwood on this beach

supple and paired
big eros caught by the artist
one should always offer some encouragement

but like a dentist poking at a foul tooth I must mention it Auschwitz

the obscene steps through the enso
in red panties whip ready

I massage the pustular back
of the unspeakable
it groans with pleasure

from her eye comes a terrible glare
as from flaring gas pipes
no depriving her of her glamor

look at her, riding her horse of iron
inside the cowering psyche
spurring on eternal
more ambiguous cruelties -
this bitch, Auschwitz -

skull grinning
she leaps up a tree
she is still free
though I named her three times



Fizzy For a Duck

what's wrong with a nice duck?
a flying duck gives one of those

she wore silly shoes
to the hardware store
fizzy for a duck

a sad fate:
shot down Wednesday
cooked in champagne on Thursday
fizzy for a duck

construct a bubble
exact specifications
inside pressure equalized
with the pressure down there

this bubble cannot be burst
a mile out from Hanauma bobble
a hundred feet down

gently in the current
safe in a made-up sea
lit like a great clear room
float for a few decades

but wouldn't she eventually
get fizzy for a duck

farmhouse, New England
May. A basement casement
rolling meadow out the window
in low light

couple of bird-cries
alone for miles around
stare safely
for hours at soft green

scene remains empty
night falls
heavy curtains closing
suddenly fizzy for a duck

small cruiser
anchored Amsterdam harbor
day three of rain
Hudson blanket good mattress

small porthole
rock rock no disturbance
boats only can approach
wrapped tight, no sleep
fizzy for a duck

high-ceiling London study
bookcases all round the hearth
leaning back in her Queen Anne chair
maid pouring lapsang souchong

maps on the long table
and notes made in Antarctica
after the maid leaves cooling
fizzy forehead on the window

room of one's own but
she unlocks it herself
one quack does it


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