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By Susan Kelly-DeWitt


The Montréal Review, July 2011





It is the crumbs from yesterday's toast scribbling

a poem on the floor, which the ants will read and forget.


It is Van Gogh's irises tangled on a Get Well card

I addressed near the end but never sent.


It is twenty Madonnas by Jan Gossaert on twenty 37 cent

stamps: spider veins of holy halo-fire.


It is the spider in the corner, the eight-eyed Theridion,

who is my doppelganger disguised.


It is the fly I wrote about once in a failed sonnet.


It is Joyce who believed her dead son came back

to her faithfully every year as a fly.


It is a dead friend's book of poems, published



It is the booze and the nightlife's dead batteries.


It is two contact lenses down the drain at a Motel 6

and the almost-spiritual searching.


It is one car's headlights making owl eyes late

at night in the poem's rain.


It is the silent tick of the final nanosecond of the last long hour

of the last short day.




We are made of billboards

and exhaust. We herd traffic,

tend parking meters where

sycamores used to be. We tell

stories of how, all at once,


the starlings fell out of our dusks.

The streetlights blink alive, lit

tulips on painted stems, blotting out

the stars. Rats creep out along the levee,

through the tangle of wild grape,


and the river's shine drags past

the tourist shacks in Old Town.

Then sirens begin, searchlights

climb down., and helicopters

circle like old gods.




The two of us look up-

my mother from her wheelchair, I

from two good feet, carbon

copies of hers


to spot the bird preening

outside in a hospital laurel,

whose crisp music snaps her

from stroke's stupor.


Her own unsteady babble

is a kind of warble

her Broca brain's muddled

gyrus chants.


The sparrow's song squeezes in

where words no longer fit,

into her heart's blue gnarl,

its baffled nest.


Susan Kelly-DeWitt is the author of  The Fortunate Islands (Marick Press), as well as eight previous small press collections. She has been featured on  Writer's Almanac and  Verse Daily; her work appears in many journals and anthologies, including  The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American PoetryShe's a contributing editor for  Poetry Flash  and a blogger for  Coal Hill Review.


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