Susan Briante


death comes anytime
everywhere just today
as my daughter watches a cartoon
about polar bears I read about a man
who watched a bear kill his wife
in the Romanian woods
and the man threw stones
I remember what I cannot picture
how the bear drove the wife’s torso into the ground
an understanding in the half dark
of how “torso” carries the moment
just beyond a stone’s throw
when the wife turned to prey
in the hands of the bear
          will it break?
my daughter asks holding up
a fork, a rock, a plastic travel toothbrush,
a small metal car, a paper plate, a rose bud,
and when I say yes she shakes
her head holds the blossom close
to my face, but it’s not glass
          we are tuned to shatter
we fear bears, carry stones, a blossom
is luxury for the starving, a cardinal
cries from the tree we cut
back year after year
me in red plastic chair
“stumble” my daughter says
but what she does is fall

December 12—The Dow Is Closed

“Cannonading is not agreeable, but it is bearable,” Gertrude Stein writes, “but bombing from above and not very high above is mightily unpleasant.”

Drones sound like the hum of monks at prayer, are insects living in honey, can come from anywhere, out of any sky

which turns the color of worn cotton at dusk, rough hem of winter when leaves and mockingbirds hush, shadows litter the sidewalk before an empty house, fully lit, and across the street a woman places something on her porch.

Stein says during the occupation living in the country was easier than the city except for the gas and butter rations, and my feeling doesn’t have a tank at the end of it.

On the internet, photographs of German police who take off their helmets and march with protestors in solidarity or arrest 340 protestors or serve as escort.

The facts matter.

“I’m hopeful,” writes X in the comment box.

Stein says the occupying Germans were very polite, correct.

One does not feel safe

with analogies. What I think is moon is Venus, but I take a picture anyway. In this dim light it looks as if the woman bows at her doorstep.

Susan Briante is the author of Pioneers in the Study of Motion and Utopia Minus, both published by Ahsahta Press. She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Arizona.

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