Self-Portrait as Steam Engine Locomotive
So this is novelty, my face on a postcard,
this is children clamoring for me to scream.
I am history, but not the good old days,
I told forests to move and then consumed their trees.
My father loves the miniature me,
when young, when our country was younger,
I was acceptable.
I cut my state back and forth like a razor to a wrist.
I have a lot of time to think, from point A to B, from B to A.
Even when speeding down a hill, the wind
pushing me forward,
I know I will have to go back up.
What I carry is not light.
Not papayas, not monocles,
tungsten, forklifts, dumpsters.
I united a nation. Men have died beneath my feet.
But for memory, conversation topics, I was replaced
by something better.
I attracted suicide.
Freeloaders jumped from breast to hip.
Parts of me detach. I’ve been graffitied;
I’m running out of coal.
Metal makes me, my clang, hollowed where a heart
should be, a fire stoked instead.
Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as The Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House at The University of Maryland. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Best New Poets, Rhino, Redivider, and Crab Orchard Review. She is a 2015 recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant. Her work can be found at shevaunbrannigan.com.