to pay off my parents’ debts

I expected congenial work


preferred the affirmative, the second dignity

some encouraging voice


I knew the fact in all its glaring odiousness


history it is a dirty procession

a knife in a rough sack


not often / much more

than I dare say


I threw in ignorant

like other good-humored girls


I was a very young person much interested in myself


my friends had a high quickness

what we loved with the eye we wanted to follow


over our heads was paced a heaven

we feel the vast suggestions hunting us up


The first time I bore the disappointment I inherited

—a long slow current will you shut your eyes—

it was clearer than paper money


other traveling to copy out


miles of yonder warehouses then look

here come the green fields


deep in tiger lilies I wade


a colonial mansion

large covered arbors and secure ancestral halls


the horses accustomed to arms

and cloths of gold


maps too dark to wonder what was coming


my daydreams became a foretaste

and a first delight

A Note on the Text

“No Answer” is comprised of language—in one, two, and three-word pieces—from the opening pages of the twenty-five most downloaded books on Project Gutenberg as of January 8, 2015: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana by Vatsyayana, Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Ulysses by James Joyce, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Beowulf, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

Allyson Paty

Allyson Paty's poems can be found in Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, Kenyon Review Online, The Literary Review, Tin House, the PEN Poetry Series, and elsewhere. She is from New York, where she is, with Norah Maki, co-founding editor of Singing Saw Press and, with Emily Skillings, co-curator of the Earshot reading series.

Photograph by Christie MacLean


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