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                                                            The Literary Review
                                                                      Issue 8

Page 11

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The Final Days

Love dying ever faster
in those days,
we pretend
not to notice this erasure
of last resort.
I don’t know why I expect
applause from anyone
when I finally resolve
to walk away. Stay,
he pleads, the husband
who, the night before,
had threatened
to cause a bloody nose
if I didn’t share my savings,
and that morning: never mind.

He argues instead that
a car trip would do us good—
fall season,
leaves—and I worry
I’ll be like all those lost
in shallow graves
off highways,
eyes eaten by crows.

Susana H. Case__


Tourist, Port au Prince

Stunned loneliness suffuses
this hotel room,
its fan ineffective
as a tremulous lover,
its walls not quite reaching the ceiling.
I hear a woman’s unreal pleasure,
her sudden oh-ah-bebe slicing the air.

Nights splay out in forgotten places,
and, in streaming street light,
an unfamiliar bug with large pincers
lays anemic on the floor.

The sidewalks wake at 5 AM,
their din, a tangle of vines,
contains the wish today might
not be like yesterday. Outside,
an indigent child waits
to escort me, this foreign woman,
anywhere I want to go.
He thinks I don’t know the streets
that finger out in every direction.
I’ve been here before;
I do know these streets.

Unpenned, where should I wander?
A heavy blanket follows me everywhere.
I don’t know why I’m here.

Susana H. Case__

'Kafka Dreams of Milena
(In the 1920s, Franz Kafka wrote obsessive letters
to Milena Jesenská, who later died at Ravensbrück.)

He thinks he is she and she is he,
a blending so Mayan,
as in “I am you, and you are me,”
so combustible, she catches fire

and Franz must beat her
with his coat to smother the flames,
except now he’s on fire,
a metamorphosis,

beating himself. They are creatures
of blaze until the truck comes
to save them, blasting its horn.
Then she is a chalky ghost, gaunt

against the darkness. She reminds him
there is the matter of the husband.
Franz will write her letters
and more letters, feverish letters.

He will not caress her.
Loving her cuts him, like
grabbing a bread knife.
He only loves what he shouldn’t touch.

  Susana H. Case__

Feynman Writes a Letter to His Wife

Arline’s dead. TB. There seems no
getting around it. The months drift by.
After a few dates with others,
his hopes dwindle.

But he’s a physicist. Perhaps death’s
an illusion, the past, present, and
future a spectrum of possibilities.
She might be struggling
to learn Italian in another universe.

He thinks it probably makes no sense
to write to her, benchmark
of all his adventures,
besides, he has no address. He writes
to her: You, dead, are so much better
than anyone else alive.

  Susana H. Case__

© Bob McNeil: The Terror Called Trump

© Bob McNeil: The Terror Called Trump

Accidental Savant

A Tacoma furniture salesman
who likes karaoke and beer
is beaten one night

into a profound
concussion and awakens
to the geometry of rainbows,

to circles with corners.
Reality pixilated, all angle
and pattern, he pours cream

into his coffee and sees a perfect
spiral, pi in the light that arcs
off a couch. Lines obsess him now;

he stares at the curvature of spoons.
His brain sees the world
in flash-frames, the way I see you,

sitting across the table.
You’re made up of beautiful fractals.
This morning. Always.

  Susana H. Case__



Youse guys, I hear behind me at the theater,
nasal, long vowels.
Being twelve vivid again,
striking out from NYC for rock and roll,
Palisades Park, deejay Cousin Brucie,
strolling on stage in a leopard suit.

My goal is to interrupt Frankie Avalon’s
pre-show lunch—manicotti,
cheese melting into the tomato sauce,
Frankie with napkin tucked bib-style—
stray strutting my stuff
into the restaurant for an autograph
as if I own the place, but forgetting

to bring anything for Frankie to write on.
Your arm, my friend Joyce voices scorn,
would have been useful.
Frankie fumbles about
for paper, before the bulky manager grabs
my arm hard and drags me outside.
So, no, I don’t get the autograph.

Palisades Park Queens Manhattan
parallel universes in which I don’t get
everything I ask for, greedy waif.
Joyce says I’ll leave the planet
like that. Meanwhile, Frankie’s
still singing; in this culture,
nostalgia for crooners runs deep.

Every time I bite into manicotti,
I’m reminded how free it felt
as a child to roam unaccompanied,
how I didn’t need the autograph
anyway, and I still rely on luck, loath
to plan what to bring with me,
insistent on carrying a small purse.

  Susana H. Case__