Shevaun Brannigan


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