Literal, Littoral, Littleral

Danielle Pafunda

I have enough times been the ampersand,
the hitch between two vehicles
the vehicle itself careening questionably
up the mountain road, which is,
in my opinion, poorly designed, a hazard.
It is sometimes called the coast,
the coastal highway, but never
the cliff-side transfer whereby you take
your life in your hands, or more literally
the wheel in your hands, or the hands
beside which you sit, the wheel by which
many subtle gestures ensure
your safe arrival. Anyhow, it seems to me
a very poor choice of transit. However
much we love vehicular independence,
the illusion thereof. Or the glamour
of regency ghouls. That golden age.
Anyhow, the vehicle, she, why not,
that has many times been me,
and hardly splendorous, sinking
dolefully, doefully, dutifully
into the “lake,” rolling graceless over,
eating up the “blurred yellow lines,”
eating pavement, often graciously so.
I have been the pinch of weather
in the phenomenological space
between you lovers, the compartment
in which you exist hand to thigh.
The crowbar in the garden rusting
from strange use, with little ambition,
who would throw such a thing there?
And when I am no longer analogous,
I go. Likely poorer and better off besides.

More by Danielle Pafunda

The Dead Girls Speak in Unison

Do not pretend that you don't like it
when we threaten you.

We see you getting pheromone stink
under the collar, moaning, baldly. 

Motionless, picturing decay.

When we creak your step,
when we crack your glass,
when we tap tap tap,

that is a bone

that is all we have

though we are very shiny,
and filled with beetles.

We are made entirely of bone.

Like an idol.

Like the tusk of some wonderful past.

When you cleave to us,
your skin will fuse,
hot calcium meth,
and in the myth, 
you will be named for us.

In Portraits in Seasons

As a feral thing would. As a dead leaf
whose crunch she herself hears, whose

buggy interior floods the sidewalk. Beamy
the world, yet a blank all the same.


Where you’ve tucked your pen into your notes,
I tuck my fingernail, burned and cursed and

shut tight my eyes. I tuck my feet up like a girl.
In this corner, warm milk fall of light something

far from revealing its bone-blank eyes, that is,
the eyes downcast in every portrait, shaded

the ribbon a bright blue furl across the gaze,
the peculiar mother, her arm around a naked toddler

the fall of light. Betrays nothing. The book in
hand, betrays. As a feral thing would,

I shred its binding and burn through it for warmth.

Coffin Oseberg Covered Wagon for All Our Grievous Doings

What use in you you wrong wrought wood
what bevel escaped its key. A mandible
beyond its prey an arrow all shaft in each
one its torso oddly pierced and tails that spring
like thistle weed a root that wears a vacant stay
and tacky to the touch its itch to form a place
gone red with west and who will ride your behest?

Your Pegasus, your polar bear no need to build nor ride.
A crank that fails to meet its shaft a terminal inside
where thorax says that form is fact and bid that bird
it tried till eyes were tooled from spit-balled wad
formaldehyde and crime. Bury what you preach,
why not, in the hull that wooden rind.