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Category: Darcie Dennigan

The Palace at 4 A.M.


The authorities come, in the middle of the night, on ignoble steeds, to take Hannahbella away.

They come to take her away and they took her away, but she remains, for I have built this palace for her on the 13th, and therefore nonexistent, category of reason.

They come to take her away and they took her away, but she is still here rehearsing her walk off the tiny plank. And there she is again, begging our prehistoric bird for another ride around the rotunda.

But here are the authorities, coming on their strapping steeds, to take Hannahbella away.

They took her away, and their stomping upset our fragile beams, and we, Hannahbella and I, have been left behind to right them. We right them like spines, one after the next, up four floors of the palace, and then together Hannahbella and I walk the roof wire and right the spire.

Now the palace is becoming crowded. There is Hannahbella, and there is I, and there are also all the Hannahbellas who have been taken away, who are also still here, in cages suspended from the palace’s high ceilings.

They come to take her away and they take her away and the palace is peopled with Hannahbellas, each rehearsing a different scene cut short from the life of Hannahbella.

And one of the Hannahbellas rehearsing a scene from adolescence asks me why, if I am such a believer in effacement, why do we live in a glass case where all can see our movements? And they come to take her away and they take her away and it is very difficult for me for I miss terribly even this most belligerent of Hannahbellas, who, a teenager of terrible grace and anger, has been left behind and is lighting the palace on fire.

(But Hannahbella, when they take you away the palace grows rooms, rooms, there is so much room in here to think, such large rooms, Hannahbella, I am not exactly sorry to have.)

The townspeople are coming out to watch the palace glass shatter, to watch my Hannahbella pour cold piercing light all around her. A shard may have struck me from above, but I am busy, very busy, because here are the authorities charging in on shining steeds to take away all the Hannahbellas in existence, all the real ones and all the memories of what was real and all the memories of what about her was not real but still exquisite, which means that of course they must take me too, for it is I who keep insisting that the fragile princess exist.

They come to take me, the queen, but I am cleft in two, and when at first they do not know which of me to take, I announce to them a riddle I think may spare me:

Do not despair; one of the queens is saved. Do not presume; one of the queens is damned.

But they took us both.

from The Palace of Subatomic BlissFind more by Darcie Dennigan at the library

Copyright © 2016 Darcie Dennigan
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

The Shooter


         When asked, if you say “I do not dance,” the next day an infant is born without feet … That’s what Sister Mary said … Then yesterday my friend said that he heard the world is in the fourth stage … that the fourth is our final … our worst … that the Dharma bull is standing on one hoof … I said You’re right … And we both felt energized … exultant even … I turned on the news … maybe meltdown … maybe revolution … We listened … This fourth stage … such science … such … fruit … They interlace apricot with plum … and the outcome … ! Plus … say they take you to the ICU … if you get shot in the head … if that happens … they can use these tiny copper tools … they can remove half your skull … … This was all mostly me talking but I guess I wasn’t listening … I was eating …

         It was a feast … Kiwi abounded … Kiwi ice sculptures … Kiwi fondue … Kiwi boats … Kiwi fountains … I heard my friend’s voice … He was saying … Kiwi … but with a lot of … pain … As if the kiwi were killing him … I looked up from … my trough … His voice was coming from … the radio … ? There was a radio … lodged in the kiwi gateau … There was kiwi veal … I’m sorry I said … to the invisible host proffering the kiwi bacon … I’m sorry … I’m a vegetarian … There was even … now that I was looking … encased in brown fur … a kiwi person … I’m sorry … I can’t … Where was my friend … He was so polite … Even among cannibals … If asked to eat children … He would acquiesce … He once told me … he’d rather eat than dance …

from Madame XFind more by Darcie Dennigan at the library

Copyright © 2012 Darcie Dennigan
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.



My mother was a voluptuary. After secretary school she went back to stay with my grandmother in the house on the corner.

She came out only when my grandmother sent her for milk, for cigarettes, for wine biscuits and pizza strips.

No matter. She got offers.
Frank Lafazia loved her. And Matt McDonough. She wanted only my father.

He was the guy who stood inside the knight’s armor down at the grocery. It was the Round Table Market, now out of business.
They had the knight’s armor by the door, for decoration.

My mother would come home with rust stains on her blouse, little bits of blood on her mouth.

My grandmother tried wicked tonics to cure her.
What’s in there besides nothing, she’d yell at her daughter.

Not that my grandmother was much better.
Commandant of the local dead letter office. In charge of letters to toothfairies and deities. In service of the nonexistent address, she daily donned her postal cap.

So that was my grandmother. Sappho was the patron saint of our mophouse. The poet famous for poems that are not really, anymore, existing.

Every ancient unearthed papyrus roll Sappho wrote on has holes just about. Sometimes out of a whole poem just a few words have survived. Like, Garlands of celery.

Out of respect, we often bought these at the grocery.

I was older and had left home and the congeries of toast and butter winters when an ass in Cypress unearthed an intact papyrus.

A whole work by Sappho from the start to end.

When that papyrus came to town four years later, to a museum, I was right in line—

I waited hours to see it, and when it was my turn I sprayed balsamic vinegar on it.

If I ever have a daughter—by prisonguard or conjugal visit—

I’ll name her Arc of a Circle. Or Ellipsis.

Or Awry By Any Means Necessary.

from Madame XFind more by Darcie Dennigan at the library

Copyright © 2012 Darcie Dennigan
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.