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                      Feature Poet: Page 2


EVERY WHICH WAY

Imagine a globe spinning through space
You are standing in Canada    The stars are
singularly bright   You watch them in silence
You are standing in China   Bikers struggle  
through crowded streets   Pollution so dense
it obscures the light   You are standing in Spain  
It is summer   The sun burns your flesh 
as you reach toward your daughter's hand   
You are standing in Africa   The Serengeti is quiet   
Predators wait for night   You are standing in Antarctica   
The sky dimming in preparation for winter's long sleep   
You are standing at the North Pole   or in a big city   
Calcutta perhaps   or Moscow  Buenos Aires  New York 
You are standing in the suburbs   on the plains   
on an island   Do you ever think it curious 
no matter where you are   freed of gravity  
you will fall into space   Perhaps even now you 
slant at a ninety degree angle   or worse  
with your head hanging permanently down  
How athletic to be stretched out sideways  
rigid as a board   What determination to remain 
the wrong way round   the soles of your feet where
your head should be   Have you ever considered 
how distorted our perception of who we are 
how we are placed might be  When we are   all of us
standing   every which way but up 

  Susan Sherman__

_________________________

A FARE/WELL PRESENT

Well  good-bye
and all that means
if in fact it means
anything
                words sometimes
taking the place
of meaning
                  like last night
twisted in my own
syllables   trying
to explain

Or that summer
seven years old
first time away from home
A feeling of the heart
but literally that
                          The camp director
calling it "homesick"
or "missing"
Not only that something
was missing
                   that I was missing
someplace or someone
but that somehow
I was also missing
from something   somewhere
I wanted to be

A seven-year-old pride
denied it   denies it still
but now with how much more vehemence
command of language
skill with words
                          no longer only
(shoulders out   chest squared)
"homesick   not me"
but paragraphs of explanation
reams of words
                          to say only
somewhere something
has been left out
is out of place

And so   as a farewell present
I give you this poem
This  feeling of the heart
That when I think of you
leaving
             And when I think of you here
and can't be with you
Even when we are together
when I feel you growing distant
I experience that
                             "missing"
that something 
left out
as if I am discovering the word again
for the first time
What it really means

As with all things that move us
deeply
             the feeling comes
                                           first
the experience
As we perceive the meaning
The word
                  follows later
"missing"

that space which is not empty
but fills all space

  Susan Sherman__

BORDER GUARDS

There are lines drawn in the sand 
that must never be crossed   So say the pundits   
the arbiters of boundaries   definitions   of what should   
or should not be said   or done   There are lines 
drawn on maps   around cities boroughs neighborhoods 
blocks houses   The people who live in them

There are lines drawn around nations
Lines teeming with people waiting to get in   
or out  There are lines drawn around individuals  
ethnic racial tribal lines   Around genders   he she 
you me   A demarcation of countries cultures continents    

There are lines drawn around hemispheres   
North South East West   Around the Earth itself   
There are longitude lines    latitude lines  
The Tropic of Capricorn is a line  The Tropic of Cancer  
The earth as it circles space  As we delineate the seasons   
Spring Winter Summer Fall

A child takes a crayon   weighs it carefully
It is yellow  the color of the sun   or of her dreams 
places she sees in the pictures she thumbs through at night 
her fingers scrolling color across paper   purple
then blue   an ocean   then fire blazing orange 
and subtle green  trees flowers   objects without set form   
Only she knows what they mean  

Lines of memory are like that   vivid weightless  
ghost images without boundary  Cezanne 
seeing a forest of trees come into being
in the dawning sun   paints them obsessively 
branches leaves undulating out of birthing light  
as they come alive in front of his discerning eyes 

All this is not to say we do not need to name things
identify them  ourselves   but where exactly are these 
boundaries borders   guarded so carefully
with passports rules and laws? I can't see them
Can you?  These lines that label us  define us   
separate us   These lines that must never be crossed

  Susan Sherman __








REQUIEM

Think of the lowly mouse   No one to mourn her  
shed a tear   Grey   ugly   tiny ears laid flat
against her skull   a smaller version of a rat  

No country mouse   Disney cartoon with gleaming 
patent leather fur   round megaphone ears   
she is a city dweller   infested with germs   

wanting only a warm place to nest   
a drink of water   a meal   Think of her  
the common mouse   murdered in an act

of self-defense   dumped unceremoniously into garbage   
covered by banana peels   toilet paper   bottle caps 
days old food   Perhaps she is a mother  

her children waiting patiently for her return 
Think kindly of her   the common mouse
who had no say over who she was   where she was born   

her position in life   No obituaries
will honor her   No interviews   TV panels 
Wikipedia entries   Facebook or Twitter accounts

Think of the lowly city mouse   and how we treat each other
Our own children   Those who are old and alone
 

  Susan Sherman__


_________________________

HERE'S A POEM

to the poets who die unknown  
who live their poems day by day
bare the chaos of lost words
Here's to the poems that never get published
that lie fallow in someone's veins
that burned in Hiroshima and Nagasaki  Vietnam
New York City  Portland, Maine
Here's to the poets in Nicaragua
Mexico  Cuba  South Africa  El Salvador
in the southern countryside of all the Americas
and the northern cities too
Here's to the women and men
who never even knew they were poets
had no one to tell them
didn't know how to tell themselves
Here's to the millions of words buried in a 
million places all over the globe
The mouths and hands silenced forever
Here's to all that magic music beauty
surprise that died unsung   that dies everyday
The blood that moves us forward
that holds back the tide

  Susan Sherman __