Love Quarrel with Ixodes
I leaned into you.
My hands, my many bodies of desire
brushing tips of natal grass.
You pooled into me, devoured
nouns, verbs, shoes, lucidity,
the names of flowers, flowers
becoming things. Of all the things
you tried to teach, patience
my failing grade.
Together we shuttered the days.
O the dirt we loved, sagebrush,
the tender places—armpits, ear lobes, labia.
Stealth brown body and eight bowed legs,
the way Houdini vanished an elephant
you inhabited me. Bountiful spit.
We midwifed each other.
Oblate Addresses the Tick
I can(not) walk in knee-high grass
brome, blue-bunch, squirrel tail, fescue.
The question that unravels
memory has made of me, the spectral
word the word
I kept from myself
now your cocktail napkins
and your paper cocktail dress.
Your greed to ride my life straight to perfect
laughter is now mine.
Oblate in the Monastery of the Disappearing
Word— “I was only ever brave in the mountains.”
Semblance my undertow.
Memory my lost continent, my
lanterns of fog.”
: Janis and Rauschenberg on a Greyhound bus; infatuated Churchill
posting a telegram to Wendy; the dewey decimal system.
Continents of pain.
Equally intoxicated by sunflowers and brandy Love
after Saint Teresa of Ávila and Carl Jung
You travel the Blue Mountain Province
on borrowed feet greeting barking dogs
merry on the sidewalk. Two feet talk their way home from the bar. Every unknown
wanderer. What the ancients’ images
taught us: madness is divine
Outside the castle with the foul infested you forewarned
the detritus and dead. Ending on a comma. Is she
your bird-girl? Mine? The mystery play
is soft like smoke, thin like air, but I am raw and halfhearted.
Hum for me a lullaby.
Insomniac neurons stripped down to their panties, the bed sheet too heavy
for these two useless feet, You say, God has fallen out of containment. You say, Let
this presence settle into your bones, varied and brilliant, blue-veiled, a cradle
song, sounding sexy, and
I on a streambed of light, leaving
Notes on the poems:
"Oblate Addresses the Tick": Ixodes scapularis is commonly known as the deer tick.
“Oblate Addresses the Tick”: “Your greed to ride my life straight to perfect laughter is now mine” is adapted from a line by Charles Bukowski in Factotum.
“Two Feet": “Every unknown wanderer” and “What the ancients’ images taught us: madness is divine” are adapted from Carl Jung. “Let this presence settle into your bones” is quoted from Saint Teresa of Ávila.
“Novelty Shop”: “Equally intoxicated by sunflowers and brandy Love Winston,” is from a telegram written by Winston Churchill to Wendy Reeves.
Susan Austin is the author of the chapbooks Requiem (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019) and The Disappearing Word (forthcoming from Seven Kitchens Press, 2020). Her work can be found in The Cincinnati Review, Sow’s Ear, BOAAT, High Desert Journal, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Hanging Loose, and elsewhere. She is a former Michener Fellow and is currently at work on a personal narrative about the intersection between illness, art, and the natural world. Susan lives on the west slope of the Teton Range in Idaho.