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Author Biography
Poetry By
  Susan Zenker

Published on: 9/19/2011
At Mount Carmel

She wants a poem that fills
a glass baking dish
crusted to the rim
with green granny apples
maple syrup
cinnamon sticks
orange rind.

She wants a poem that satisfies
as an iced berry tea
frosted to the brim
with sweet lemon wine
and tart nectarines.

She wants a poem to enlighten-
like a child's eyes
observing a swallowtail
for the very first time
effortlessly knowing what God is
and what peace feels like.

She wants a poem that can
raise factory workers
from the dead, her Teresita
standing at this fence
gazing at November's moon
angelic and golden, healing.
Her sister dressed and fed,
any place where the twin cities'
regrets condense, vanish like dew
on morning blades of grass
and barefoot the two of them
trample death's surprise
holding hands and dancing.

Published on: 9/19/2011
Krylon QuickDry, Battleship Gray

On the curb at Hunter and Wilcox
on the pay phone at Michael's Crafts
on the bridge marker, 15'11"
along the bench at the Baptist Church
back of Benny's, doors and dumpsters,
stop sign, mailbox, brick wall, fence,
on a windshield scratched in rain dust --
you can't catch me -- chicken

Something torrid, territorial, bursts
the paint right out of that can --
the secret desire to touch
all things living and not
like a dog lifting its leg
like a sunflower stubbornly pushing
and shoving and kicking its way
through a crack in sidewalk cement.
They are out there.
   Create create.

In the middle of the night
while I sleep in cotton
and dream of baby's breath
and the clock on the wall needs
winding, they are out there
in the painless hours before the dawn
   I fear

the moonflowers tiptoe fatherless
through darkened alleys
   I ache I ache.

Published on: 9/19/2011
Reflections on Carlsbad Caverns

Before the time when Patience had a name
when fingers of the wind sought company,
a single drip burst through the hardened clay,
and drip by drip in puddles trickled deep
from snow which melted in the mountain pass,
diluted down a crag like melted wax.

The gnat the bird the butterfly all laid
their eggs on cactus roots and spun their nests
while through the layered limestone droplets splashed:
rains molding bedrock into living caves.
In drip by drip and crack by crack it fell--
this voice of time a drop like wet shellac.

Then came the men who'd link the railroad tracks,
who from the breathing rock chipped metal veins.
They slid into the caves, ropes strapped with lamps,
to chisel mica flecks and bat remains.
They cracked the earth and seeped into its flesh
fell victim to the drip of steadfastness.

Those mines now rot; wet sculptor of the gorge
still etches temples along the canyon path,
cascades its ice down trails with chiseled order,
its drip and glitter, constant--dwarf a man.
Vague tracks a pack rat's patter left behind,
reminders: none defy the craft of time.

Published on: 9/19/2011
Bury Me Standing
      --for C.W. Jacobs

Bury me standing
in a Fort Bliss plot
white dress uniform
nothing fancy, no viewing.
I've seen too many funerals,
too many open caskets--
the dead are nothing
like the living.

Bury me in Fort Bliss
under a crisp blue sky
in the shade of the Franklins
away from lords and cops.
here-- where tanks plow
furrows in the desert, light
night raids in tunnels while
helicopters watch over
border patrol agents
electric fences, sniffing dogs
and Minutemen-- though none
can deter the blurring of
boundaries or mixing of races,
the inevitable blending of
skin colors, languages, and faces.

Bury me in El Paso
I wish to die now
though I never killed another
human being, I prayed
for combat-- too many
open caskets, curious viewers.
and the dead, thank god,
are nothing
like the living.

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