Susan Aizenberg

Susan Aizenberg Poems

I've been reading Rimbaud again & I must confess
that his beautiful nights & scents of vineyards & beer—
his green lindens—all of it—takes me back, a little,

Rain hushes this February morning,
that same infusing chill
that once entered the slim bones
of your hands, until they ached, flushed

A Vanished World
If only they'd been purely souls, saints,
or like the ditch weed thriving
against the ghetto wall, could have survived

Look: a man is teaching his children to ride
the big waves. Hand in hand in hand they wade out
past the first mild breakers. Icy green fingers

Day after day, the fecund, mis-shaped cells
doubled and re-doubled inside her, infused
her blood's unguarded channels and spawned their rank

This is Hell, J. says from her hospital bed, and I
don't mean Hell, I mean Hell. Like a comic
lush, she slurs her words, Atavan and morphine
swelling her tongue. Pupils shrunk to motes.

Not as a bird with twelve black wings and an eye
and a tongue for each of us. (Someone dies
each time he blinks.) And not shrouded in celestial
light, a fair-haired castrato. Not as Samael,

wife is pretty as a wedding cake.
Think Wasp perfection,
Hitchcock's doomed blondes.
Like them, she knows something's up,

Susan Aizenberg Biography

Susan Aizenberg is the author of Muse (Southern Illinois University Press, 2002), part of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry and the recipient of the 2003 Levis Reading Prize; and a chapbook-length collection of poems, Peru (Graywolf Press, 1997), which appears in Take Three: 2/AGNI New Poets Series. She is also the coeditor of The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (Columbia UP, 2001). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Chelsea, The Journal, Midwest Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, and Spillway, among others. She is a professor of creative writing and English at Creighton University.)

The Best Poem Of Susan Aizenberg

Eleanor Writes She's Reading Rimbaud

I've been reading Rimbaud again & I must confess
that his beautiful nights & scents of vineyards & beer—
his green lindens—all of it—takes me back, a little,

even though I know better than to get nostalgic,
to those early years in Cortland, the smell of apples
like a sweet red fog all over town when the orchards

bloomed each fall. We'd work a day shift at Smith Corona,
lie in the dark fields at night. I can still hear the cars
rushing by on the highway, see the stars overhead,

so many more than I'd ever seen back in Brooklyn.
It all seemed so romantic, the gun in the glove box,
a shoe box stash of acid & speed, a boy whose touch

on a pool cue brought him to my room early mornings,
flush with cash he'd taken off the dumb-bunny freshmen
at the college up the hill. I swear we even played

that scene, tossing bills over ourselves, high & naked,
in my narrow bed. I don't want to think of our lies,
our petty thieving, how we stitched kangaroo pockets

into the linings of our coats. Or how for weeks we
lived on boosted steaks & candy. I don't want to think
again of next-door L., how her toddler stared all day

out the window above the crummy bar where she danced,
while she & her junkie lover slept off their latest
derangement. All I ever gave that kid was a wave

of my hand. Still, some days she wants out, that girl I was,
wants them back — her reckless nights & slow, stoned afternoons.
—Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes

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