Daniel Tiffany

Daniel Tiffany is the author of six books of poetry and criticism, including, most recently, Infidel Poetics: Riddles, Nightlife, Substance (University of Chicago Press, 2009). His poems have appeared in Tin House, jubilat, Fence, the Paris Review, Lana Turner, Conduit, the Boston Review and other magazines. His fourth book of poetry will be published by Omnidawn Books in 2013. He is a recipient of the Berlin Prize for 2012, awarded by the American Academy in Berlin, where he is currently completing a critical book on poetry and kitsch.


Her favorite advice:
be Brechtian.
With earrings & adjectives.

While buttered larks
fall from the sky.
There’s just no way.

Standing against a tin wall,
bird nailed to a mirror,
her mouth is painted with branches.

Discover not a secret
to another,
the good book says.

One small sip is quite enough
to make you think
you have entered another world.

And all doubt about which one
it is disappears at once.

She—yeah, Dido—starts hitting the guy
with her cigarette case.

And their sleep is taken away.

The green alchemy gives them
no peace.

I can’t begin to explain
the world they left behind

or where that hunky Polo guy
trying to put out the flames with his shirt

came from.
I know I’ve seen him somewhere.


His angels be charged with folly,
it cracks between their teeth.

A boy rings a bell and the peeling
hatch opens again by itself.

On the wall is an Albers;
things twinkle in the lounge.

Some fifty people are present;
most have a second helping.

Then, too, then, too, then, too.

Head bumper
Eyebrow branky
Nose anky.

Mouth eater
Chin chopper
Gully, gully, gully.

Tell you something
you might not like to know.

Milk is a popular, soothing drink for children at bedtime.

More daring still are the birds.

Off to the terraces again,
without fault, without object,
guided by the waves, by coal dusts,
by fistfuls of red petals scattered to the air.

Kids We Call Stars

The day after the day
not yet called unhappy.

In a matchstick coach
on the ocean floor

burns the tiniest of lamps,
a liar’s candle

painting the veil and her pillbox hat—
some pixie crying in a $500 outfit.

Now I never
will forget that floating bridge.

What the Japanese call
lost-roof technique.

Heart, liver and lungs,
collectively known as the pluck.

Even a honey wagon.
They all disappeared.

What made me think
I could lock the pixie in her room?

Calm as a kitten,
she ripped through the door

and closed her eyes, asking
stuff about life on Earth.

Secrets of the Latest Winter Fashions

Not daring to enter,
we passed near the little door.

Not daring to enter
the dark cells where all day

the mutants sleep
trussed up in gauze

and the latest machines.
The proud helpers do stoop under them.

What are you saying?

I saw a cottage near the sky,
I saw the Old World

fixing lavender pie.
It’s simple: you put your money

down, take your girl
upstairs and clown.

Neither shall your place
know you in the end.


I saw a girl just like a cat,
I saw a kitten wearing a hat,

I saw a man who saw these too
and said though strange all were true.


You’re gonna do what I say.

It will always be like this.

Hunter bent with the unwanted
gifts of hunting.

They keep you in a sanctuary.

it says at the entrance.

You stop eating
and drinking until something

possesses you.
For the heart studies destruction.

I just came here to have
a word with you.

The room is white/ is charred/ is white.
The evening storm might blow.

Let go of the girl.


                             Someone call the trainer.

Someone call the trainer.