A Tragedy’s Brewing – Susan Sonde

susan sonde

Wind’s high-strung tonight. Winter’s turning roseate
lips blue. Flies sit glued to the frozen tarmac
of my windowpanes waiting for the first warm breeze
to hug them. I’ve had to lattice my witches’ broom
and swear off cleanliness. Rain wants in
but cold from the higher-up’s corrals each drop
thrusting each into an overcoat of ice covering all.

Dust switches through my rooms, stunned
by the sun’s reappearing rays, its midday profligacy.
From its tower silhouetted against the sky it watches
through its Polyphemus eye how easily humans get off
on grand theft larceny, drink until marinated;
dance naked in the laps of strangers, going home
with all who ask, our lives a raging opus

of transgressions. Everything we do is outrageous
and nothing we do is outrageous

enough to obliterate the fact that our shelf life’s
limited. Few, love us towards posterity fewer
still when the voice that’s ours lapses from memory
the ancient cassette which houses it.
We fear falling into the gaps between words, so
turn up the volume of the internal talk show
prattling long past hours, gigs only we attend
and ignore the blackouts, labored breathing:
our lungs become

sallow women in faded dress. Our blather more
than enough to reach the stars, heaven’s
condemned tenements. The excess spoken
with those in mind who died longing to say more;
their grab bag of words pushed beyond
the reach of others. Oh! Sisters and brothers

veterans of funerals and marches, we don’t want
to die with our longings intact, the dissonances
of chemo playing chimes in the ravages of our hair.
Life not death

unnerves us.

Faces bloodied by lipstick, more likely war
our features turn hollow. Every declivity
a detonation, every dark swatch
sister to an ink blot on a Rorschach test
we’ll never unscramble.

In the wintry light above my attic stairs
mice knit nests between the pages
of my unwritten novels. Needles clacking
all night keep sleep away. Clock slumbers
soundly on my pillow. I’m glad it’s getting rest.
When it wakes, I’ll quiz it on passages from the bible
and hug a few myself.

The days bank faster than westward racing clouds
at sunset. The cowbells in my throat
no longer articulate. My thoughts elope
with whatever’s handy and off they go
high-fiving the fly specks on my windowsills.
The rain, not yet curled into a fist
taps lightly on my shoulder. Its tongue’s
no wing but the human heart’s so often

for a wintry forest.

The trees there, bleed from their branches
utter their fatal wintry cries and drop
as if decapitated. The sky at road’s end’s
turned on like a television set
and in a million-million rooms
people give the appearance they’re watching.

susan sondeSusan Sonde’s debut collection: In the Longboats with Others won the Capricorn Book Award and was published by New Rivers Press. The Arsonist, her fifth collection was released in 2019 from Main Street Rag. Evenings at the Table of an Intoxicant was a finalist in the New Rivers New Voices 2019 contest. The Last Insomniac was a 2019 finalist in The James Tate Award. The Chalk Line was a finalist in The National Poetry Series. Grants and awards include a National Endowment Award in poetry; grants in fiction and poetry from The Maryland State Arts Council; and The Gordon Barber Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. Individual poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The North American Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Mississippi Review, American Letters and Commentary, Bomb, New Letters, Southern Poetry Review, and many others.