the poetry that matters

Sunshine Dempsey

Sunshine Dempsey received her MFA in Poetry from Colorado State University in 2010. Her work has appeared in various literary journals, including Hayden's Ferry Review, Matter, Plains Song, and Red Clay Review. In 2008 she was the recipient of the Astraea Foundation's Emerging Writers Grant. Currently, Sunshine resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.

From ghosts we carry solid:


absence of:


process catabolism mastication (roast chicken) defecation fertilization recombination synthesis consumption intoxication distribution analysis (visiting cafés on a weekday) methodology investigation (Masterpiece Mystery) sexual diversification and display (getting one’s hair cut) extratropical cyclones fluid dynamics (lacing one’s boots up tightly)



the trees here: up pulmonary oxygen-

depleted blood from red clay respiration




                                                such that:


(a) prick my lip on the spine of the holly leaf (b) plucked from the cemetery where your grave (c) unnamed and overgrown by the holly tree:sharp



inhalation of breath



(blood from clay)




                                                                                    again.  residuals of systemic process.



don’t filch things anymore we keep a nice house. we keeping ourselves to ourselves up mostly eating in the dining room with the papers as if there’s snow outside and we are all still here attending to you though you, you’ll do—



you’ve unburied the parlor doors.  open up all the doors: all through the house,

garden pathways moving like smoke,


like mist


this is incantation


mourning air understood like ant trails:


mimetic, commensal, mutualistic relationships walking around some mornings


                                                                                                                           (doves n’ coattails)


tell me something.



                        hips by barge. iron calcite stream between hills blackwater
                        like water for air for weeks for days.  then green. then green
                        and we’d go round at the start again  then green


                        here. by the boats by the ferry by the roundhouse.
                        here by the bluff by the river, the canal and hush the irish


                        good house lace curtains. good girl. good girl don’t talk




                        don’t talk it. don’t about.

From last night i couldn’t sleep because i dreamed i burned your house down:




last night i couldn’t sleep because i dreamed i burned your house down


i burned it down and i was neked and watching the fire but i wasn’t embarrassed and
when i saw you i asked to borrow a sweatshirt to cover up but yours was filthy
so i gave it back / that’s the final word on that


neked i can see myself and we don’t recognize each other much.  we don’t look a thing alike. 


so let that be the death of my guilt for you








i have carried that for so long my body fell away and i became a silhouette with a tattoo with your name on it


i’ve been waiting for the dead to rise and risen me waited for and not

wound in a sheet / 


what did they say but “get rid of it” and eyed me up and down











she calls late                                        at night calls everybody in numbers / everyone

except the bodies                              she knows the bodies collected, at night strained



you sound strange                           they say,

                                                                 meaning you sound strangledyou sound





cut in half 








calls because I am body:  I am muscle calling


because there are many muscles                      because they are working and they are pulling things up, like strings pulling




from one to the next / from the window above the sink to the chair by the bookcase / muscles pulling up


                                                            the left hand, empty                



                                                            the ghost of the left hand




                                                            scar tissue,                               above the base knuckle:



                                                                                                                burned thing,
                                                                                                                ready boxer,
                                                                                                               routinely pacing









has learned a quiet thing 

                                                                                                having learned
                                                                                                slight presence / quick burn 


                            (this is training: a control of the muscle)


this is restriction:



the brutal muscle                     constrained.




Bookmark and Share                                                                                                                January 15, 2012