by Susan Burg

  • RoseGarden


My Daughter

Exquisite shells cover the floor!

I step barefoot on pieces – small remnants of your last visit

and childhood tokens

diaries written in your cryptic hand that remain hidden in your cupboard

all was thrown out except these daunting shells

folded notes inside boxes from your world within your room that once

revolved around a small fluttering existence, this lazy Valdarnese death valley

where you learned to thrive.


Your shadow hunts me in your absence and talks to me                         It takes hold of my shoulders and shakes me.

I whisper in its ear and take its hand

but it has no body

I leave it treats

guiding it back into the real world but it gets lost.

I reach for its child hand but you have gone away.


Will you come when there is none else to be found?

when the water is low, when the tide turns?

Will you smile from afar with transparent eyes

your voice remotely strained,

in the unfinished space where your footsteps are real

and you laugh and whimper in high tide?


You let go of my hand.

there you are and I

will always be waiting for you in the car listening to “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”

Another song in the night

across the Atlantic.


December 31st

The last thing

the last minute


time I saw you

the last breath

and last given word


shining and I snatch it the last time.

The silence that drags

the silence of absence


shoved inside my mouth

the silence that I love

that I hate

and its sound shattered along the winter tree where I wait to sing


The last day of this year

silence is friendly.

It sends me wishes

kisses from afar

It stings and opens up like a flower.

The moment

the first flower

perfect the first time.

Silence surrenders to song.

My Internal Prisoner

Is there a softer side on the other side of the earth?

My internal prisoners have scattered so I have somersaulted to another life.

There is my old tree where I fantasized of unborn things and

my garden of tulips that my father planted along the house bricks, the corner window where Pixie waited and birds came to nest.

There is my oak tree …the patio where we partied and ate unimaginable petit fours in the spring.

I am dancing through the house to Porgy and Bess, famous in my fantasy.

Sitting on the stairs watching my brother’s friend come through the winter door that never opened up.

Harriet’s room is untouched and bearing hidden pink boxes, her diaries filled with perfumed words – there are towers of fluff as I look her in the eye, she is still 17.

and down the street I see my bicylce as I left it on the sidewalk to listen to the train howl, discover caterpillars, visit Bonnie or Hillary.

I went back today to the house across the Atlantic to lay down in my bed and play out my teenage dreams again.




I was eating pasta with Berny in a trattoria

started talking to a stranger the way my mother does:

do you know how to cook Italian food?

the lips that kiss

the tongue that seeks



and repeated

you are hiding his bulls eye in your hand

decrepid face

fox ox and brutto

that is the sound of snow that clutters the streets

fragments, morphemes and shreds

I call your name in alien sounds

brittle ice gelo.

this white candid stuff


December Fist

cold and white like smoke curling cubic and whithering bad

news then good 

we anguish as the wind pulls us closer in its fist


then it releases us onto the ice ground a wintered love a puddle so we 

squirm in its path 



we huddle  and seek warmth from each


a warm hand



we are not victims of the chill that ripples the globe

we are victims of its love 

wintered and worn

Alice’s ocean

the two ends of an ocean held in your grasp:

I walk neatly to one side and jump over a storm

the breeze cools down and sleep is interrupted by this poem

crazed poem in hollow place

the summer rolls on top of itself barfing up bad meat of last year’s investment

my head throbs it’s not a dream

the crazies are real and running free

yesterday one had automatic guns that shot holes into 12 dead people

hang on hold on hang on hold on hang on hold on hang on hold on

sit tight the ride aint easy



rickety ride down the road we go

cough up the bloody mess like decayed spirits and what is left?

the world gets tossed and thrown out into which universe?

we are caged animals abandoned in a heap

and bitterness is running through our veins.

dog eat dog world in a vacuum that sucks and sucks….

Faith in the Known


I lose my way and the sun goes down

will I find the well again?

If my ear unscrews and I hear no one

will I still hear your call?

When the sun goes down and I lose my way will I see your eyes in the darkness?

When I run down the road and find no paths at all will I slide down the hill?

When I face your smile at the deadline shine like the stars will I jump?

When I reach for life will I keep my pace?


connect the roots?

gather your sounds in small pieces

smooth it out in a bucket?

reach for some more because there is more to come, she

said to herself



you are afraid but you run away…the rain takes you away from us and the planet envelopes you in a throbbing package

I await your return…at least to say goodbye.


at 11 PM you are seen near the roses….ready to play.

You gallop around the house despite your 100 years racing us.


You have forgot the scents of grass and rain.  The streets.  And now you dream of eternal love.





Giardino delle Rose, Firenze

Past Lovers

open doors to watch me with folded arms

appearing in corners, the image enlarges and I see my lovers from the past

looming over me bodies of thought


Flat lucid light… summer sweet

carries the tide

and the sand

….turn around and look at me so I can tell you the story…


ice blue

doesn’t move because it is mutant freeze

no one clutches it and nothing grows on it almost a Martian venue


If we could move backward we could see why and pick up some valuable relics from the base material


present stable conditions

like unfinished thoughts

are caught in the wheel

summer down

cracked or wilted the season is here

flawed and eternally perfect we awe at nature

summer rolls over and we applaud



should be


since we are so hot


and empty in this sauna

we are helpless creatures

victims of our world….




soft hot days you me

sting some times in a winter we wish

to make the world go

down side up

and have some June.

some bird that fly north to sing

and other to peck


it sun

we say





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