These poems by Suzanne Stein proceed at the velocity of thought and include commands to the reader, memories and ruminations, quotations, ideas about keeping comfortable no matter the weather, insights and axioms that all but unravel upon careful consideration, and thoughts about pragmatic considerations such as lunch, all of which constellate around a central concern: Is all this language what we take as a “self,” or as the poet puts it: “No one. Why should you or I be anyone.”
by: Suzanne Stein
The emptiness of momentum.
Stop feeling the ugliness of a place long enough for the beauty of it to come through.
A headache hex.
Nix the pastiche in favor of—
To favor pastiche.
Set boundaries for headaches to pain by.
Set the tone.
Re-set the system.
Destroy all monsters.
Your suburban dreams will be the ones that defeat you.
I never had any, not one.
Therefore, I am undefeated.
No children, no laws, no lawns
Constitution vs self-organization, what’s the difference?
The universe is bigger inside than it is outside.
A world so organized.
Some pierce the flesh with long thin spears to focus their minds through pain.
Not “by means of” — beyond.
Lawn or meadow, it doesn’t matter.
Why take yourself so seriously?
“Though the pane masquerades as transparent I know it is impenetrable.”
No one. Why should you or I be anyone.
I take my coffee black.
Last night in a dream the barista said to me, “Good. Take it without any shit in it.”
If only I had a lawn to take my cup of coffee out on —
but maybe not. In Maine my bare legs were stung by all manner of creature in the grass.
World so organized to sting!
What shall we eat for lunch?
It’s excellent to make this inquiry on a warm day when one is not working, which should be every day.
Warm, and not at work.
Or snowing, but indoors, with access to warm things to eat.
A snow day in summer is no work in the middle of the week and wine with lunch and a nap after.
Nap after wine at lunch, in the sun, on the grass, with something delicate and comforting to draw over your shoulders, or to shade your eyes, why not.
Why not a hat.
A hat, in winter or summer, it’s really quite nice.
Row, row, row your boat
And so on, in summer.
In the green, green grass of home:
And at dusk
Because the evening is warm and the night a touch of cool
And afterwards, wine at lunch, but not tomorrow
Because we’ve already had it today
And too much is surfeit
And we get flaccid
And forget industry
And forget to feel guilty
Suzanne Stein is the author of New Sutras (forthcoming September 2019), Passenger Ship, The Kim Game, TOUT VA BIEN, and, in collaboration with Steve Benson, DO YOUR OWN DAMN LAUNDRY. After thirty years living and working in the Bay Area, she resides now in San Diego, California.