I am a student of literature -
a schizophrenic,
struggling to hear above the cacophony
of voices in my ear.
They crowd my shoulder,
Hawthorne's earnest whispering,
Melville's emphatic shouting,
Whitman's lurid candor,
The lilting birdsong of Dickinson;

I build houses with the bones of dead poets,
houses populated with phantom voices,
I rip phrases
from their holy shrouds,
and drape the worm eaten words haphazardly,
trying to fill my empty hall.
The stolen lines fall flat, and
I try again, goaded along
by a kindred spirit and a stern guide,
until for a moment I can balance
a vision of perfection;
this haven I've built myself,
vacant but replete with me:

and throughout it all,
and in the empty spaces,
I hear a soft voice
that has learned to be bold.

Amanda England is a college student majoring in education. She has work appearing or soon to appear in 42 Magazine,
The Houston Literary Review, and The Hedge Apple. While not in class,she works as a substitute teacher, serves on The
Hedge Apple reading committee, and moderates a peer critique group.


"Building Illusions" is dedicated to Mike Harsh and Amanda Skjeveland, two unique individuals who have coaxed, prodded, and threatened me into writing. It explores the role of a modern poet: the delicate balancing act of respecting the great writers that came before us without allowing their ghosts to overshadow us.



Copyright 2009