If Love Had Grooves
Shepherd Pratt, Towson, Maryland: March 13-18, 2020
I’d set you down in one, petition the Gods
to take the nights off our backs, force the hours
to play catch-up with water’s flow then bid the ebb
to dance on our graves.
Capture the last minutes of night darkening
the whereabouts of birds.
Commission a phonic cycle from the ravine of their
tiny throats, a serenade to shepherd new growth
from the cramped poultice of leaves the rains have
bound into hung cocoons, their hearts in hiding.
The rooms our overwhelm turns from box matches into
We trudge from heatwave to heatwave all thoughts
of escape a gelid misaligned mangle. Our nights
count sheep. No matter how many
buttons we toggle on life’s remote, traffic with
others is an unsafe drive-through: the world we hurt
we hurt inside of. The joy we savage we savage by
Forgive this intrusion this guessing I play but
the absence of reality, that quotient stolen from
your youth really haunts me. Then too I’ve nothing
to do locked in here with you within this emotional
pallor, but follow where your wet animal nose takes
Because I’m drawn to the alchemy of your pre-meal
tantrums, rages that shiver the air between us;
the curses your glass eye’s learned to hurl at others.
You spout history, a daily sandstorm of facts
that mask how your memory flushes away its entirety:
the embryonic cache you once were, big alone
nesting in your mother’s womb. Your cries, a wet-
lipped hunger, claw that lodged in her throat.
Were her limbs a bit manic, her eyes in their bony
catacombs frantic; mouth constantly crooning
nightmares to you?
I read and re-read your letters, the sheets you
insist on giving me. Your words bolt across the pages
leaving contrails of dirt that clog the margins.
The obscenities your burnt straw ticking beget
are poems written backwards: cygnets minus swan song.
When from this ward of unsound minds I’m gone I’ll
ponder their meanings. What I mean is, we’re never
where we want to be. Where we want to be is undeniably
inaudible, not this noisy riptide others over-populate
mouths tunneling angry bees from the hives they’ve vexed.
Can a body change overnight, its antibodies turn it
into a paragon of light, the radiance of now:
a white intransigence?
Oh, then let it fall…a relentless snow piling pillars
at our doors, orphaning us from this externality
which aspirates in low growls; sun a lesser light
The windows dead-ending the halls I’m permitted to walk
graze the wings of other buildings, their ancient gutters
What does not spark I think must surely be the cause
of misery too tightly strung, no life-changing music played;
no magical tidying up of wounds: mess the mind and body
The honey pot the sky was today fades and dusk yawns blue
to gray. I rest my head against the windowpane, March’s
icy flat-line grin staring back at me.
© Susan Sonde
Susan Sonde is an award-winning poet and the author of six collections. Her debut collection, In the Longboats with Others (New Rivers Press), was the winner of the Capricorn Book Award. Other prizes include PEN fiction award; Gordon Barber Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America, Maryland State Arts Council Awards in fiction and poetry; Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction. She was a Finalist in The National Poetry Series and a runner-up for the James Tate Award. Her poems have appeared in The North American Review, Boulevard, The New Mexico Humanities Review, Quarterly West, and many others.