July 2014 Sestinas
Susan Yount was raised on a farm in southern Indiana where she learned to drive a tractor and hug her beloved goat, Cinnamon. She is editor of the Arsenic Lobster, madam of the Chicago Poetry Bordello and founder of Misty Publications. She also works fulltime at the Associated Press and teaches online poetry classes at The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative. As if all that wasn’t enough, she recently completed her MFA in poetry at Columbia College Chicago and is mother to a darling 6 year old. Her chapbooks, Catastrophe Theory (2012) can be found at Hyacinth Girl Press and House on Fire (2014) is freshly out at Blood Pudding Press.
Down to This
She just caught the damned kitchen on fire and burned herself alive. –Husband
Here is a peacock drowned in the ocean
an oily swirling rainbow of feathers.
Here is her right hand. You may pluck fingers
till her nerves are pared. Never sever
her hand. Here is a chicken; raw and bare.
Its naked wing trembles mid-air.
Here is her left hand flapping in the air.
She beams knife teeth. Her cataract, ocean
eyes spill into brine. Roasting a bare
turkey breast she superglues feathers
to her chest. Am I pretty? Her smile severs
illusions. Are my arthritic fingers
celestial wings? Here are her fingers.
You may plunge her fists into the airless
dishwater. Drowned. You may never sever
her breath from the curling ocean
where she is a dodo flaunting feathered
breasts. Turkey breasts, chicken breasts, bare
bone in breasts; plump and sunburned red. A bare
bird body. Ready to bake. Licked fingers.
How could I be growing old? Bird feathers
become fingers; feathers fingering the air.
Here is an emu drowned in the ocean—
swirling the kitchen sink. Never sever
the head from the neck. Never dissever
the whole from the heart. I cannot, will not bear
this alone. She fails into the ocean.
It feels more like birth than death. One finger
curled, clutching the sink-rim. Gasp air.
Fingers, don’t fail me now. Please don’t! Feathers─
don't fail me now. Please don’t fail me. Feathers?
Here is her heart. You can find it severed
and sunk and stuck in the sink strainer where air
has turned it brown. Where are my wings? Her bare
bones exposed. A fallen peacock. Fingers
dangling in a mirage. Boiling ocean
waves curl and feather. Daydreams severed
by hot air and burning roasters. She fingers
flames on a bare boat lost in the ocean.
Originally Published in Chaffin Journal
There is something sweet about my dreams.
Relief—and when I wake, my face stays pink;
eyes cracked like sunshine through leaves.
I wander to the alarm clock—to the sink
and wash away last night's sweet wine.
At the mirror, I scratch sleep from my eye.
I can see your face reflecting in my eye.
Cold thoughts—cold water washes away dreams.
I think of last night's dancing and wine.
How you scowled at me and my drunk pink
cheeks. I ran from our dance to purge in the sink.
You left me, shooka branch, and rattled the leaves.
My chest heaved to inhale your shattered leaves.
At the window—pain framed your elastic eye.
I rinsed off my face and cleaned the sink
and you heaved to inhale our shattered dreams.
Gazing, even now my cheeks are still pink.
I forgot to put the cork in our wine.
Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled, spoiled wine—
Dead trees, dead grass, dead sky, dead leaves—dead wrong.
But something inside you turns me pink
with life to spring from fall with watery eye.
So, I put the cork back on all our dreams
to chase reflections in the kitchen sink.
This time, you wake and rise. I break and sink;
run and hide last night's berry wine.
We sit. Sip coffee and confess sleeping dreams.
Seems just as cracked as those veiny leaves
dry as the corners of your needle eye.
The sunrise shines blushing—rushing in pink.
A sickening, sickening rosy pink—
flung through the window and bounced off the sink.
So I put ice on my bruised, cracked eye
and grab a glass and fill it full of wine.
I sit to watch the trees die; drop leaves.
I drink to give life to my failing dreams.
My pink cheeks, bruised face, bloody sink.
Your evil eye, cardboard cork, shattered leaves.
But you say it's me—my wine that drowned our dreams.
I still don’t agree.
Originally Published in Bathtub Gin