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Other notable work by Susan Berger-Jones.

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Stoolie

I have an imaginary lover,
Don’t you? Fortunately
I see him only when my husband

Is away. It’s convenient
That he lives across the street
So I can just run right over

After doing the breakfast dishes.
I worry a lot about what
The neighbors will think

If they catch a glimpse of us
On his wrap around porch.
For that reason, we usually

Confine our activities to his bathroom
Or basement. We couldn’t
Do anything at my house because

I don’t know him well enough
To let him put his head
On my pillow. What if he has

Dandruff or one of his nose hairs
Were to fall into the sink? My
Husband doesn’t like finding

Hair in the bathroom. My husband
Doesn’t have much hair on his head
At all. When he comes home, I

Stroke his bald, egg head and smooth
My palms on its nascent bristles.
We dispense with the pillow altogether.

_______________

Caesura

And then she stopped, as if
The irritable reaching found
Its source, as if the roses were

Now painted red, as if each
Wayward thought met a new
End, as if drifting did not

Lead to calculated hysteria.
She followed her mind, her mouth
And shut up her heart.

_______________

Oracle

We’ve got a knack
For joining routine
Cults. Sign here

To make amends
At the intersection
Of melody and

Mortality. The goat
Meat dries on the rack.
We sacrifice what

We don’t need and
Can afford to kill.
Offer us a pigeon

Breast plumped with
Harmony and we will
Nourish our fear

Of flying, or is it
Falling? We’re fond
Of windowpanes and asphalt.

_______________

Pit Stop

I became a pilot
because I liked flying
through altitude.

I’d pack clouds
in my brief case
and bring them

home to the kids
on weekends. Once,
flying to Zurich,

I forgot my landing gear.
I developed a fear of telling
stories I could not finish.

_______________

At Least We’re Over

Yesterday with it’s gritty
insistence on ruin.
If the sutures holding
all of it together
get snipped, then
the wound reopens
and its discharge
will flood the foyer.

Such drama over
silver polish. Are
our grandmother’s
eating utensils to become
the elements of our
last meal together?

_______________

Climbing Out of the Marvelous

I have learned that knowing a man
is not as easy as it seems.
I have learned that knowing
a woman is even harder.

When I stopped sleep-walking
in concentric reservoirs,
the nurse installed a muzzle
in my chamber pot.

So buoyant was I that no
pipsqueak omen could connive
to smudge my vital gargle. I
camouflaged myself as a warbling hero

and nuzzled up to the organ
in the alcove. Here, kiss-kiss,
our apparent paradigm traipses
to alleviate the superfluous.

We take advantage of the hubbub
and sandwich ourselves under
the hospitable treble clef. We live
for sex or did you know that already?

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Sally Van Doren is the author of two books of poetry, Possessive (LSU Press 2012) and Sex at Noon Taxes (LSU Press 2008) which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. She divides her time between St. Louis, where she is a curator for the St. Louis Poetry Center, and New York, where she will read at Hunter College on September 29, 2014 and teach at the 92nd Street Y starting in February 2015.

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Susan Berger-Jones-

If I could sue a cloud

Loving you is not an act
invested in ferociously
trained seals –

as if one could sue a cloud –
or place an elephant momentarily on edge –

my lap dances are all in the audience –
swinging on so many trapezes
they sleep in oriental combs –

of moonshine
in the face, you I carry –

milkier than a white rat –
your tent floats in my eye –

who else is too small
to be a paper lily?

_______________

Making a hole where the hair gets in

Let us love musak and the macabre –
Let us utter everything we spell –
An army bulldozes the turned over –
When I wake up a person might be me –
Swiftly I turn her into mingled steps –
No one else confesses –
The country is a blank sheet –
Our children grow up compact and crowned with teeth –

So, let me introduce you to my navel –
A beautiful mind has come for this –
Hatching the blueness of each queen –
Whether or not the sky is less than –
A law made of water and therefores –
We are only ounces and pounds –
We dream of things but do not think –
When you sign on the dotted line – you are done for —

_______________

On international mustard day

I run a lightening rod through your hair—
a little like a person who stands a moment by the stair—
I lose things—

widening rings, retrograde Moons, the sacre bleu—

but you may always be my geisha—
who hides in our bodies dear—
who thinks in terms of kingdoms?

I am just doing the backstroke—
as mine as nobody ever was—
like a Hollywood agent for circumcision—

we charcoal ourselves by hand—
when images are caught in our hair—
I am grateful to be licked clean every night—

Love, look, now you’ve changed the color of my eye shadow, here—

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Susan Berger-Jones is an architect and poet. Her work has appeared in Drunken Boat, No Exit, and two anthologies of poems on paintings edited by Off the Park Press. In 2012 she was a finalist for The Center for Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Poetry Competition. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

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