Happiness is Poetry: Suzanne Burns
So tonight friends a new discovery for me, the poet Suzanne Burns. It’s amazing what you can turn up through a Google search. I really enjoy the work I could find and have ordered a copy of The Portland Poems and am looking forward to reading more of her work, take a look, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
Paparazzi flashed, “Smile, Ms. White.” My coveted iconography, the blood
Reddening my lips, rumored to inspire the next Fellini. At my last Big Apple
Premiere the press, in a New York Times coronation, crowned me the cinema queen.
For a starlet adoration is the thing. They dubbed me a rising orb, my complexion white
As snow. After my Hollywood opening, a critical thumbs-up affair, the Daily Mirror
Headline read, “Our Southern California Doll. Snow White’s the Fairest of Them All!”But now my cancer spreads. Tumors outsmart my breast. My glory, all
My shining décolletage removed in an anti-cancer manifesto. My blood,
Ignited in war, de-canonizes my body with disease. Like weeds, like cracks in a mirror,
The choice of retaining no choice is clear. Chemotherapy gleans like an apple
In my lover’s eye. My doctor, a lover translating poison, imploring a cure.
His coat, white as the pallor of my skin, instills pity. Will he be responsible for the death of a queen?
Recovering at home, implements of sickness—pills, compresses—crowd the queen
In her king-size bed. Predicting my death, the media impeached my Oscar nomination, all
The coverage touting me the model for mastectomy. If I was a portico, white
Marble bones supporting my condemned structure, I would strip off my blood
And not remodel. My agent, cunning as the step-mom in a fairy tale, sent over an Apple
Computer to catch up on my electronic fan mail. I stare at the blank screen like a mirror.
I need to flee from here. My reflection in every mirror
Retains the texture of torn threads. The dead might need a new queen,
But not me. Journeying beyond the Hollywood hills, I replace the yellow apples
Lodged on my cheeks with blushing new buds. The rocky expanse of the highest peak, all
Trails tree-lined and steep, presents a view of the sun at night, chilling its fire-blood,
Allowing the moon her turn. There, the only seen intrusion is her circle of white,
A forested sanctity. I carry seven dwarf candles. Composing speeches on the white
Podiums of wax, I whisper a prayer, then light each stick and burn the ash. A mirror
Of night blankets my overlook. On a break from chemotherapy, my blood
For a week reclaims harmony from its dyslexic beat. The air shivers my toes. Queen
Mab, I suppose, arranging flowers at my feet. The wax in seven coats, all
The wicks winking black lashes at my body, shines under the moon, an apple
Ripe enough to eat. One scattered seed may harness the rudiments of an apple
Orchard. This meditation is my beginning. A marathon of cleansing the white
Shadow from my black bones. The exodus home to remove the changeling clinging to all
My sufferings like a spider hidden behind the glass eye of a doll. I will be well, a mirror
Of health, skin shedding its sick shingles like tarnish silvering from the crown of a queen.
I feel the presence of remission, Divine Intervention between my Maker and my blood.
The blood of fame flows in golden rolls, but money will not coax an apple
From its seed, nor cancer from a queen. The absence of sound is not black but white.
Silence, a self-reflecting mirror, can show hope to even the sickest of them all.
By Suzanne Burns
5 December 2005
I will believe till eternity, or possibly beyond it,
that Lizzie Borden did it with her little hatchet,
and whoever says she didn’t commits the sin
of sins, the violation of an idol.
As murder chimed with the clockworks
you confessed to thumbing fashions
in Victorian magazines, scribbling
a wish list, cotton dresses to mirror
the verdant sheen of pears.
Mysterious fruits devoured
in your father’s barn, clear
juice puddling on your chin
like the stains of lovemaking,
marking the dank place of broken
birds, a spine and feather memory
of Father clipping first their heads,
then your wings. Crimson oils greased
your thighs, his palms, your graduation ring,
a tarnished hope Father refused to break,
circle eternally squeezing his little finger
like your mute mouth sucking
on a bony thing, like your hatchet
cutting a friction burn as you excavated
the skeleton silent beneath
your Father’s bones, forcing a response
in the house without words.
The Light in Your Kitchen Window
You do not know I am standing out here
like something, for once, that belongs in the dark.
I am not afraid of an errant zombie
lost and looking for brains
or the kind of man who collects fingers in a box,
breath catching the way it does
on the biggest and best carnival ride
at the thought of cutting off the tips
where my composed shadows play against your front walk.
There is a circus in my heart for you.
What I mean is more than the roar of a lonely woman
masquerading as a ghost beneath the streetlight.
You have tried many times to turn me
into your own private ghost
by the way you keep your lips closed now when we kiss,
and how we never kiss,
and how you dropped my nickname somewhere out back,
but this sideshow we exist in is still filled with hope.
There is cotton candy there, too,
electric pink dross of good dreams
before all we did was go around saying,
or refusing to say, I’m sorry.
We have washed and dried dishes in the same sink
so this is nothing to shut your blinds to,
the way I wave before you go to the bed
I have loved you in and out of too many times
to keep hidden in my own special box.
I am standing outside your window
watching you water plants, make tomorrow’s sandwich,
force yourself not to wave back.
I mean the kind of sorry that might sound better
translated into the private language we once spoke
when we liked the same movies we hadn’t even seen,
Laurel and Hardy and that piano
negotiating their thirty-nine steps
onto a list of favorites we meant to sip hot chocolate to,
some certain look shared between us
no other certain looks could compete with.
The look that keeps me anchored in front of your window
long after the lights go out,
long after you tuck yourself in
by negotiating your body to turn from where I once slept,
somehow a little afraid of what will happen next.
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