Artless by Brenda Shaughnessy

is my heart. A stranger
berry there never was,

Gone sour in the sun,
in the sunroom or moonroof,

No poetry. Plain. No
fresh, special recipe
to bless.

All I've ever made
with these hands
and life, less

substance, more rind.
Mostly rim and trim,

but making much smoke
in the old smokehouse,
no less.

Fatted from the day,
overripe and even
toxic at eve. Nonetheless,

in the end, if you must
know, if I must bend,

to that excruciation.
No marvel, no harvest
left me speechless,

yet I find myself
somehow with heart,

With heart,
fighting fire with fire,

That loud hub of us,
meat stub of us, beating us

Spectacular in its way,
its way of not seeing,
congealing dayless

but in everydayness.
In that hopeful haunting
(a lesser

way of saying
in darkness) there is

for the pressing question.
Heart, what art you?
War, star, part? Or less:
playing a part, staying apart
from the one who loves,

"Artless" by Brenda Shaughnessy, appears in Our Andromeda (2012), and used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Canadian Shortlist:

What's the Score by David W. McFadden | Sailing to Babylon by James Pollock | Personals by Ian Williams

International Shortlist:

Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems by Fady Joudah/Ghassan Zaqtan | Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden | Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro | Our Andromeda Brenda Shaughnessy