Shevaun Brannigan

The Original Siamese Twins

The sternum.               Flat bone fused.
           Their arms hold
each other                    tight, like
applying pressure to a wound.

           Their shirts blear white.
They are small             footed,
                                    like deer.
Of course,       a question        of sex.                        

Did Chang close         his eyes, did
            Eng feel insecure,
did       the women                  like it?


In bed,             whose heart     to hurt            
as they             lie
                                    left? Chang
had a temper

                        like a cat
he let out         in the neighborhood.
They held on to grudges
            like handles     of hammers.

Pay      a nickel            to watch them
           read.                They are not
      tired, yet.       They are as proud
of each other               as parents.

            May I            present Chang
presenting Eng            presenting
            Chang?            One of them
carries a switchblade

                                    in his pocket.
It won’t cut through              
            bone.               So let us
age them.

Let their bellies grow,             their hair
            gray,    their spines
                        sink in and

Chang pulls away from           Eng
over the years.             His arm is slack
            at their side. Their wives bicker
like Pomeranians. 

                        The circus music
            becomes tinny.            And today,
Chang closes               his eyes.
            Feel the blood             clot.

            See Eng wake
to the corpse    he now            carries.
                       Feel the blood                         rush
            from Eng

            like a crowd told
the circus tent              is collapsing.

~  ~  ~

BranniganShevaun Brannigan  is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as The Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House at The University of Maryland. She has had poems appear in such journals as Best New Poets 2012, Lumina, Rhino, Court Green, and Free State Review. She has been an Arts & Letters Poetry Prize finalist, received an honorable mention in So to Speak’s 2012 Poetry Contest, as well as a Pushcart nomination by Rattle. Her favorite poetry writing gig is the workshops she leads at her local Domestic Violence Shelter. You can learn more about Shevaun at