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Category: Darcie Dennigan


He was nice and I was nice and when that is the case what to do but consolidate.
We bought a house.
In the years before we’d bought a house I had dreamt of a house and had loved dreaming of a house and then we had a house and I missed my dreams.
So I resumed them.
—The real estate agent stood on the lawn. She was my mother and she was also, in the dream, a large bird. It was a strange neighborhood, set deep in a valley. I kept asking my mother, the real estate agent, why the hills there were so blue but she kept trilling Copper plumbing! school system! and I knew she did not want me to know the answer.
—Out back was a deep well and we were rolling a rock over the grass to cover the well so that the kids would not fall in and the rock was very very heavy but in the dream I knew that, in real life, the rock was no bigger than my husband’s eye.
I tried reading Jung.
On page one, there he was, wishing to remember only when the imperishable world irrupted into the transitory one.
I said irrupted aloud. Then slept.
—We were frozen in the yard of a dollhouse. The yard was turf instead of grass. I was the wife doll in a lounge chair. The husband figure had a rake in his hands. The kids were also dolls and there were bubbles around their doll heads and they were posed as if trying to pop them. Then the yard suddenly exploded and in my doll head I thought, Run. Then it was later and a toy boat was coming to collect our bodies from the scene.
—The real estate agent’s throat was blocked. I knew that she had tried to swallow sperm and I knew that it was whale sperm. I was behind her in the Heimlich position and she took my arm from around her waist and pointed my pointer finger up at the sky where the sun was bright and high. I knew even during the dream why I was dreaming this and it was because, in real life, my mother has a high and bright voice.
—A homeless man was at the door of our house. It was my husband. I opened the door. He wasn’t speaking. I spoke. Everything I said was sounding flat. In the dream I told myself, Say something not flat, say something round. I looked over the man’s shoulders out at the round blue hills. I said, Boo hoo. I remember in the dream how glad I was that it was a dream because I had said the wrong thing.
The day after that dream, someone knocked on our real door.
I did not answer. I was pretending to read Kierkegaard.
A moment later my husband came in from the kitchen and asked me, Who was that at the door? And I said, It was you.
I said, I think it was you.

from Madame XFind more by Darcie Dennigan at the library

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

We Humans


My boyfriend believes aliens built the pyramids. He is very smart. I say to him, You are the smartest person I know.

We are in bed watching, on the laptop, the PBS special Pyramids. Their mysteries, etc. When he isn’t in laughing throes, he is full of woe. The truest of all men is the Man of Sorrows

I hand him a typed-up fact: He worries it between his hands till paper roses pop out of his sleeves.

A bouquet: In the fall, the doorbell rang over and over unbidden the morning his mother was on her carpet dying. And the bell (he has the Italian way of making emphasis with his arms) does not have faulty wiring.

Proletariat must be one of his favorite words. Tonight I ate too many Oreos and referred to myself as lumpenproletariat but after he laughed he was not amused.

Atheism is lonely-making. In the dark of our apartment (he loves the Christmas tree but unplugs its lights), we feel the planetness of the planet. After the laptop glare has left our eyes, we will see from our window the stars, whose aliens make much more beautiful paper roses.

Who wants what is true, or woe? What I want is children.

from Madame XFind more by Darcie Dennigan at the library

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

The Drought


         Dip him in the river who loves water … said the cook on the cooking show … Take the hearts of thirty ducks … and here’s the trick … You must keep them wet … the way to go … the way to go is broth … Okay … Broth of hearts of duck … I went to go buy broth stuff … a bay leaf … Oh said the grocer … With duck heart what you want is spice … Curry the thirty hearts he said … Back home … Hurrying … Okay, curry … The mailman smelled the place … Oh ho, he said … I smell blood … he opened the pot … Why if it isn’t 30 duck hearts … Of course you’re going to skewer them … ? Skewers … I had to … I had to go … I ran down to the hardware depot … Skewers … ? Well it’s not BBQ season … I persisted … I explained the meal … the populace … Meanwhile … customers were coming … buying out all the salt and shovels … for the blizzard … buying out all the fireworks … for the Fourth … buying out all the hammers and nails … for Hurricane Ross … Remained: some rope … I’d hang them … if I had to … It’s not thirty duck hearts is it … asked the clerk … I didn’t dare talk … To skewer the hearts of thirty duckers … he said … you need the beaks of thirty ivory-billed woodpeckers … Are those … rare? … As rare as they come, he said … Better give me 31 …

         Ran home … the kitchen was smelling … Okay … Okay … Almost ready … The places set … Candles lit … The downstairs neighbor tuning her pipe organ … … 29 special guests filed in … Please sit … May I present … In the heart of each duck … there was a glint … majestic … They said, Is that … ? Yes, I said … Yes … each one swimming in sauce and broth … Oh, they said … Oh no no no … Had I … ? Were they … ? No, no no no no … Dip him in the river who loves water … Yes that’s the recipe I followed … That’s not the way it goes … anymore … they said … They said … each heart should be served raw … and drowning … in a sacred diamond-flavored fountain … I was so … I didn’t usually believe in impressing … But these guests! … Honestly … They were just … They were as hungry as I was … One especially kind … one offered to … to pawn the woodpecker skewers … I lied … said they were worthless … said, Oh they were free … Oh just papier-mâché … Oh found a ton of them lying around … down … where the river used to be …

from Madame XFind more by Darcie Dennigan at the library

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

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.