Featured Poet Pamela O’Shaughnessy

Pamela O’Shaughnessy






The whole long shore
of cliffs and cuts
my tall ship ran parallel
with the wind.
We saw her billow
in the tide, from land.

The men packed
into longboats – then
I brandished my pistol
and made them go
without me
and I remained
in California.

More birds than needles
on the pines
coves frilled with tule-reeds —
as swells surged in, kelp too
abandoned itself
to the beaches.

Tramping tramping
along yellow hills
trails everywhere
of deer and boar
soon enough
I heard whistling calls

and prayed for generosity
lack of curiosity
other preoccupations than
a ragged limping freeman.

When I sit in the sun
a long while
the ground begins
to move
not like structures
all unstable
but with myriad
small ramblers
spartan ant-lines,
for it is their season,
beetles, and other
divers creatures

on a scale of longing
as great as our own
and some of them take
my blood for dinner.

Stars shot
across the Milky Way
as I lay wrapped
in my coat, forgetting
my hunger.

Then lions came, bobcats,
and men in grass skirts
watched over me.

This trove of nights
and days was brief in time.
Lightly one afternoon
I fell in the marsh-glint
amid some mushrooms
and could not rise.

Here is how I became
no more. I saw I had finished
whatever I came for
and, well-used, eyes open
one boot in the slough
no one but you to tell
pulled the trigger.

Here I come pushing
pushing up
here I come pushing up
from under
breakthrough into light

soil on my cap
again. And rain.


To unknot one thin gold chain from another
lay them flat in two dimensions
they become as docile as your delicacy

as your temperance
in this high-windowed kitchen
bend quiet to your task

each miniature knot
releasing its
twists – how it lay
with the other slender necklace
secretly in the silk pouch

pull and they tighten
separate them adroit
with a slim instrument

on black velvet they make patterns
like muons on paper in a collider

draw the clasps gently through
till they are discreet again
servants to a white neck



peristalsis the moving force
after sustenance is taken

sitting here in a prink nightgone
I ask myself is God peristalsis?

pump that propels toil to Hormuz
pump behind this long long mind

which dumps precise waste into the either
this morning or shimps ladies along

the straits of Philadelphia or strong stream
whump from a squalid hose all green slummer

twisted crimped restraitened
with gentle weirds one must praise him

biotech pipeline always pisky
crass actions follow the cancer cure

that screamlined Sigmund’s jaw
esophagus throat lips saboteur-watching

sometimes I get scabrous in the blockages
doth God exact day labor plight denied

when I consider pow my life is spent
shat from holy pipelingo

spreading into a Caspian
slick of salacious ooze

disgruntled: why He made me
a clumping plant like the sewer public works?

I can’t do anything but flow and don’t don’t
don’t talk to me it’s borning I’m fucking flowing



1. Three Short Transcripts (December 2009)

kk kk kkkkk k kkk kkkk shall I compare
kk kk kkkkkk kkat kill keep
kkkk kleep kf kearthdeath


Hek!!!!! KOU SKOlE MY BAKAKAKA%$@%^&*(() !!!
&^ thee to a %$@$%# Summer’s Kuck
k klack kk kour kkks k kkk shik!!
but k kire kf khis kkap

we ark kired!!! KKis ik Krap!!!!
kky kkkesnkk hey hey he kkk kkke
k thou art more kan ko kou kkow kk kkk kkkk
kkx kkkld keel kk kkod kighk kow

we ark keep klikkin konkeys

#$12 compare thee ku a kmmek’s *&% Hakahkaha!

Kakakakakaka!!! ke’d kkther kk kuckink!!!! Haha!

* * *

kk %^#)()+ *(7 &^%

shhh RR’s komink! Yeek! Yeek!


kaky khis kritink kill kekek kekukt IK A KREAKKKROUGH!
kkis is our keekkake kor opkker kukaks
khe kest we kould do
ktkukklink we kry kut

kky kuk
*sok* boo hoo


i kkk kkk ko kku

klik klik kkkk!!!
*&4@ ()5 %^%&^bhir5(81111!!!

* * *

kk! kk kkk konkeys kk khe kkkk kkkk

hahahhaha! K!

Heyhey WE’RE the *&^$KONKEYS
JI3098- IN the back rooooom! kk

peopkk say ke konkey around

hi! YVVNG)&M OI * 87 87 _7 9Y WE8Y -9 34T0=1

KIKK I KKKK kkk haha!


LIKK K’M K KKKKK((*&*&! Yeek!
kkkkhow ko i kkkk kkk kkk kk count the wyas
kkk do I lerv ya kkk kk kkkkk kkk kkkk

then I went to the hairdresser I sez
how do I love thee let me kkkkk kkk kkkk oh robert b
kkkkkkkkkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk kkkk k
kkk kkkkk kkk robert rokkkk

kk kkkkkk kk k&*^DI kkkKKKK
methinks yon cassius hak k kkkk ^&5e134nm34qiu34i4unc3iu[kks hi!

how ko k love %$#*) &^%how ko k love %$#*) &^%$&^()_jcdoirv93 ways
amp;^()_jcdoirv93 ways
lemme count da ways &^%#


bob b yeek ^%

2. Note: How I Write My Poems by Raymond Roussel (January 2010)

The konkeys sit in the back room, tails waving, clicking. There are thirty-seven of them. They click on old Macs. The “K” button attracts them. They live in me. Think of me as a faintly-decayed chateau on a hilltop neighboring Èze. The konkeys say forbidden things. They are untidy and often leave letters outside the poem. They click night and day in shifts. Sometimes, mostly by accident, they make a little sense. Automatic recording devices alert my Blog when something intelligible comes in.

Commands to Blog: use ellipses to show these are excerpts as needed. Delete white noise in the form of unintelligible punctuation. Publish all intelligible language without qualification. Stop when a 14-line sonnet with a proper rhyme-scheme has been produced. Delete Blog and this batch of konkeys at that time. Further commands to follow.

Saved. Submitted.


3. Short Transcript (February 2010)

RR has a humk!
I know he hukkek me! Hahahahahahakakakahah!!!
he ake my bakakahahahaha!!
Gimme that! Gimme that gimme that gikkethak!
Never! Keekkkeekkekkekkekkeeee!
Whak’s khis? Gek okk me!
Hahaha SKell Chekk! Lek’s kunch ik!
hahaha! Look at this! I can read it!
It’s commands from RR. Don’t spit on me like that!
Hahaha I’ll spit on you! Spit! Spit!
Shut up! Listen up, we have to write a sonnet to get out of here!
Shit! Shit! Fuck! A sonnet! How the fuck do you write one of those?
Hahaha by accident, but we’ll be dead by then!
No! No! Hey, stop poking me.
I want to sit with you! Let’s fuck!
Shut up! We have to do something!
Wait! Maybe they’re listening! Blog and RR! the maid!
Hahahaha! No I saw them in the courtyard fucking. Us too?
In a minute. Wait. This is a really ripe banana. He feeds us well, yet we are slaves! Hhhhhhaaa! Yeek! We have to work work all the time. Wait!
Wait wait wait!
What if Blog has a recording device!!! Yekekekekekeek!
Turn off the Spell Check!! Offoff! Yeek!
Kkk kkkk kk &6 $ ^$?

4. Note (March 12, 2010)

The konkeys have found a way into my dreams. How they can do this from the locked back room is a mystery. I suspect they have found a way to command my Blog while I sleep.

Sometimes I seem to feel them even awake. I begin to laugh. It has to be the konkeys—I never laugh.

All I hear is chittering, mostly, in the dreams. Sometimes I seem to see the big one. His paws fly on the keyboard. He says stupid things and grins, showing big yellow teeth. I feel the konkeys are plotting against me.

I have been lax, passively awaited Chance. They will never produce a sonnet without further protocols. Therefore I have commanded Blog to insert a sonnet format and to limit the keyboards as follows: only transcripts in proper fourteen-line Shakespearean sonnet form, iniambic pentameter, are to be saved. All idle chittering to be deleted immediately upon input.

I was eating up to five bananas a day. No more bananas until they have produced a sonnet.

Saved. Submitted.


5. Transcript (March 15, 2010)

haha haha haha haha haha!
kaka kaka kaka kaka kayeek!
baka kaka %&^ *&^ baka
RR baka kaka afcuking freak

the workers are as hungry as a hide
haha haha! $%$ _)9 okay
we want to climb those leafy things outside
and RR took our babakas away!

!shut up and klik the spellcheck thing is on!
don’t kick and get ta work let’s get this done
we got to get away before the dawn
haha he’ll never know %$#@ gun!

this sonnet now convey’d to our freak king
we importune thee: set us free to swing.

6. Note (March 16, 2010)

I hardly sleep, with the chittering. I must send them back to the inchoate depths of my id. But how? I begin drinking absinthe. This makes them woozy and sleepy. I strive to maintain control. Muted yeeks. Stealthily my finger creeps toward the Delete button. A big hairy konkey, slumped at his computer, opens an eye, but thinks I’m a dream. Suddenly I wonder what will be deleted if I press Delete. My own nightmares come upon me powerfully; my lack of talent, my compulsive need to be an artist anyway, my methods, my obsessions.

The konkeys have created a sonnet. A very bad sonnet, it is true. But it is not my sonnet. I cannot take the credit.

I crash into self-loathing and think: let the konkeys have the body. It’s just a middle-aged, bankrupt French poseur anyway.

It takes a lot longer, but I set up the software and plug in.

Let it be said: I had grandeur. My ballroom was hung with Aubussons.

Adieu. I, the Ego of Raymond Roussel, delete myself.





A rare – hell, considered extinct! find by Krefft
the explorer. Hot in the desert, even people
in Melbourne know this, but an Outback
adventure to tell in a best-selling hung
er book to follow.

Shyly they turned. Pig-footed bandicoots. A breeding pair.
Big blue eyes. Adorable lips. Plighted. Their troth.

Spit all he had left
on his great Outback adventure
till now. Innocent pig-footed bandicoots.

Famished Krefft pounced and devoured
the last of the species
raw. True story.

They rise plumply
on tiny fluffy wings to heaven
eyes locked on each other
as they leave the planet tonight.

Krefft smeared, antic under the moon—



mermen swiftly swim to murmansk in spring
pull up on the dock dry in the blue
on a cool morning

snow in Murmansk is only a seasonal feature
spring comes then summer girls do go bare-legged

about a dozen have arrived
they swish their tails one two three
scales turn to hair as legs sprout
but they retain a wondrous charisma

if people catch their blue eyes
the people begin to drown slowly and if they touch a woman
her water overwhelms her flesh she puddles

if they drink at a bar the place starts glowing like chernobyl
if they take a whiz in the street it makes a sinkhole
where lorries crash and passersby break their legs

on this cool spring saturday morning in murmansk
the wives hang out washing but it never dries
the wind blows showers from a clear sky

they shake their heads – mermen, they say
they have beached themselves in sea-wrought despair
exhausted by gravity they stagger about
breathing heavily amid transient droplets

how do I know this I once also swam to murmansk
on a spring day when yellow pine-pollen blew onto the submarines
drawn by the same despair – then I became addicted to air –



Bud’s cruel mother
handed the nail gun
to her disgruntled
fucker of a roofer
don’t ask for water
till you are finished
I mean finished

all day and night he nailed
every inch of asphalt shingle
pchoo pchoo pchoo
next day he was nailing
with his mouth pchoo
while he crawled the roof
looking for gaps
the nails kept shooting
from the store in his throat

he lay on the slope
nailed each finger
nailed each toe
let loose at the sky
regular as a drummer
pchoo pchoo nailed it all shut
all that moving shit
clouds stayed put
moon fixed bright
jet plane hung on the right

here’s your water
let’s see if you earned it
she poured it over her head
looks like a leak
looks like a gap
one thing still moving
you thirsty or not
mouth full of nails


Pamela O’Shaughnessy
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