All That is Left
Empty attic apartment,
impossibly pitched creaky stairs.
I still want to know why the number “42”
was nailed into the top step like a house marker.
Nora the cat waits, fluffy Cerberus.
Those slant ceilings smile and recall that night
we took black and white Polaroid selfies
drank box wine from mismatched Depression Ware glass,
curled on the sofa listening to Elvis Costello on vinyl
watching static on the portable black and white television.
Dust clumps in corners,
wood-burning stove now extinguished.
South Minneapolis sunlight pours through the eaves,
kisses the bare space where your bed once was
washes over the packed boxes of books.
Our poems etched on those walls,
heartbreaks swirl in torrents down the claw-tooth tub drain.
Did you leave the gold velvet chair,
or was it hauled to the curb
for passers-by to pillage?
You will find me in the garden, buried
under blue hydrangeas and twisted ivy.
Burrowed in damp soil,
the smiling ceramic gnome my new best friend.
Starlings sing after the storm.
We peck for sticky insects rising to the surface.
My name is mine.
I never wanted yours.
I wear a fake diamond band,
one I bought, on my right hand.
Hold me to the light,
the blue serial number is indecipherable.
The Five Senses of God
God is a down pillow swaddled in fresh cotton,
his white beard silver silk, soft against my cheek.
God eats greasy Sunday barbeque and corn on the cob,
plays lawn darts and badminton with the sticky popsicle children.
God sings a raucous rendition of Tavern in the Town,
then Amazing Grace, equally well.
God smells of Daddy’s Old Spice cologne,
and glistening damp grass at dawn.
God is the buttery lobster roll you’ve been craving,
since fleeing Connecticut to the Midwest.
I dreamed this last night,
after accidentally eating meat on Good Friday.
Your best friends are the ones who tell you
your butt looks awful in that swimsuit.
The rest are sycophants and liars.
Those are the friends you take shopping,
the friends who walk you to your car at 2:00 am,
parked at the dark edge of level 5 at the A Ramp downtown
after too many $13 pinot grigios at Murray’s.
They take your keys and drive you home.
You don’t need anyone else.
Your friends will tell you that your new poem,
The one you think is brilliant,
is really the most derivative piece of tripe.
The rest will fall at your perfectly pedicured feet.
Your best friends will remind you that you can be infinitely selfish,
jealous, self-centered, anal retentive, a bit controlling.
They turn the mirror back on you,
the one you gaze in, red-headed Queen Narcissus.
The rest will say you are fine as you are.
© Susan Cossette
Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.