The Berrigan Sonnets – Diannely Antigua

Nicolas Carone - 1957

Nicolas Carone – 1957


You heard a crazy woman was put in an ambulance down on 6th.
Here, you are mourning it like a false bottom opening into eight greedy mouths.
You have to be unafraid of floating in the corner of the room,
the breath goes though it’s not plugged in to the telephone.
And these are your faded red ribbons, your best looking
funeral. You are going to be confident in your ankled denim, like sparks
spotlit long after the lights go out. Sometimes
you wonder if we are fashioned out of our aunts, fierce
birds full of teeth, horrifying the bars or the post office, which is to say there is no hope
for another bus to Saint Paul, to play like old pictures.
You hoped for 6 or 7 minutes marked like carpet when a door slams, saying
what everyone was afraid of.
You played with the cord. They devoured the house.
I think it would be too difficult for family.



We spit on each other’s genitals and call it
mourning, our two souls picked up by dogs long after the lights
go out, which is to say playing house, what Mario is to Nintendo, or
the breath goes to the bar. That someone else would help my face is

to be unafraid to die in there. One time, a woman
was put in an ambulance by a salty wind tunnel, or an ocean, or
I meant my father, waves on waves saying what everyone was afraid of—
had the calm ever been up to her ankles?

I was going to be the makeshift child found in the hair at the supper table,
fashioned out like sparks crowded around a cord.
They hoped for 6 or 7 minutes. A door slammed.
I heard a crazy funeral in their faces after, the tender
not plugged in. The old pictures have been torn.
The telephone all feathers full of teeth.


NOTE: These poems are based on an exercise of found and recycled language inspired by Ted Berrigan. His epic piece The Sonnets was created from previously discarded lines, both his and borrowed. The result was a group of poems that focused on obsession— through repeated lines and images that were rife with emotional weight. I attempted to recreate this kind of obsession, using original and borrowed lines in the same manner of Berrigan. As I arranged them, they produced a sensible strangeness that surprised me by ringing truer than so many other things I’ve written.


Diannely Antigua is a Dominican-American poet and MFA candidate at NYU. Her work appears or is forthcoming in BOAAT Press, Rust + Moth, Potluck Mag, Big Bell, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Her favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice is Chubby Hubby. She lives in Brooklyn with three poet roommates.

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