By Brenda Shaughnessy

The unplowed road is unusable
unless there’s no snow.

But in dry, warm weather,
it’s never called an unplowed road.

To call it so, when it isn’t so,
doesn’t make it so, though it is so

when it snows and there’s no plow.
It’s a no-go. Let’s stay inside.

And here we are again:
no cake without breaking

eggs, unless it’s a vegan cake
in which there are never any eggs

only the issue, the question,
the primacy of eggs,

which remains even in animal-free
foods, eaten by animal-free

humans in an inhumane world, lit
with robots breathing

powerlessly in nature.
O streetlamp,

wallflower clairvoyant,
you are so futuristically

existing in the daytime

for later, because it becomes
later eventually, then

earlier, then later again.
And a place is made

for that hope, if I call
it hope when half the time

is erased by the other half.
Light becomes itself

in the dark, and becomes
nothing when the real light

comes. It is enough to make
even the simplest organism

insane. Why did the chickens
cross the unplowed road?

Because it was trying
to beat the egg to the other side.

It wanted to be first,
at last, and to stay first,

at least until the day
breaks itself sunny side,

and the rooster crows.
The only snows are dark snows.


Brenda Shaughnessy, “Streetlamps” from Our Andromeda. Copyright © 2012 by Brenda Shaughnessy. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, All rights