Elizabeth Scanlon

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Elizabeth Scanlon

I never said I was deep

Good architecture gives the longing for perfect order
a focus and like Lear who (in our collective imagination)
said reason not the need I gather flowers often
on the way home from work when I meant
to get dinner. Not that Lear ran errands, rather
that he wandered from his duty.
When I walk by the house on Waverly Street
that I know from Zillow is filled with glowing wood,
waxed by hand, bought by some pharma bro,
I wish the worst on homeowners.

not a bird person

Being dense of bone & seeing seagulls as nothing
but venal & yet this tiny grey one,
demonstrating the limits of the physical,
crossed my path. Or I its.
It would be rude to pretend we don’t see it.
I wouldn’t know what it’s called, dun-colored
with a little yellow under the chin,
like the glow from buttercups little girls hold
up to your face & say oh you like butter because the light
would reflect the color back, blue on the shoulder
if a bird can be said to have shoulders, I don’t even know that,
what the topmost rounded part of the wing is called,
tiny eyes closed, perfect feet curled, all exactly intact & ended
by a too-clean pane of glass.

CElizabeth Scanlon reads “not a bird person”


See You

The glass is clean the veil is thin and in my strangeness is my purpose,
reaching through the window with alien not-arms to the stone dogs that guard
the park then beyond them, tentacling the way from one tree to the next
I swing as a thought-thing intent on going away from the workplace. When I see you
again it will have been a very long time, the long roots of my hair will be white
because at some point, I will give up and become. You will be blind
because it has been forty-two years since you’ve had reason to part
the curtains. Sit by the window in the full glare of the sun.
The glow-orange afterspots on your eyelids are my love,
irradiated and aimless.



You think you’ve seen it before but you’re not sure,
it has been 20 years.
Donnie Darko starts with a bike ride

swooping down toward the anesthetized parents
and the Samanthas and Elizabeths of 2001,
which was supposed to be 1988,
which wasn’t great either

Everything familiar and ironic –

I would like to be changed by your love,
but so far I feel the same
as when I was a hungry teenager
and that is my fault, I’m sure,

as I was told it was then and this
is my most petulant attitude,
how dare I want anything –

Donnie Darko doesn’t want to die alone.

I don’t remember the first cigarette, it was
as if I came out of the womb smoking,
though I do recall the last one I had before learning
I was pregnant. Its sudden lastness.

What became of all the places I lived
but never took pictures of? I won’t know.
But why would I want to? There is
reason in vanishing.
On the way
to the shore, a sign by the road said
undercoating, like for your boat or car
if you go in for that kind of a thing,
but before looking again as I slowed my roll
I’d already imagined a store
devoted to un-decorating,
piles of beaded, spangled crap
in each corner, leaving its tall walls
blank & the roof blown off.

Elizabeth Scanlon reads “Rewatching”


Elizabeth Scanlon is the author of Whosoever Whole (forthcoming, Omnidawn) and Lonesome Gnosis (Horsethief Books). She is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Poetry Review.