The quick black dog




Black Golem
In the corner
Eyes me
Through gold nugget eyes

Irish folk song
By invisible flute
Through the empty house

Praying mantis
Four stories high
Climbs up the building
While I interview for a job

The world is split
Between the humans
And the Wooly Bullies
Across a great divide

My mother is the floor lamp
That I cry to
While the room is melting
And The Shadows come to call

The Green Man
Shows Himself
An Elemental
In the leaves

Every painting a living world
Images shrug off their chains
Drift out of their frames
Loom in the air

The Last Rites
Read to me
On the radio
In Latin

My body convulses
In the chair.
Nobody’s there.

Inserts insects
Into my brain.
They are crawling through my ears.

Woman wrapped in pink blanket
Says, “Don’t worry”
As The Four Horsemen
Charge through the night.

Fat black men
From 1934
Chortle in the room.
Cast iron skillets form on the shelf.

An angel above some
A devil over others
Everyone had one

A giant insect
Inside me.
I feel myself splitting open.
As it tries to get out.

Sunlight reveals
Dog like
God like
Giants of splendor.

Ten black youth
Clad in long white T’s
Descend from the clouds
Evaporate on the ground.

The green witch
Followed me.
I walked in a circle
She pulled my hair.

Barefoot in November
Face down
in the gutter
Because they told me to.

The Jewel case
Opened its lid.
“You suck.”

I am a giant
Wheel of a snake
Being rolled across
The sky.

Three hooded Ancestors
Encircled in gold
Pour blood over my head.
I am so blessed.

~Susan Wojnar~



Blood work




Someone To Watch Over Me

The devil appeared
In the palm of my hand
It blackened and blackened.
The room breathed in and out
As the dead gathered ‘round the foundation
Rustling and whispering.
Thousands of spiders, centipedes, flies
Erupted from my eyelids
Covered the walls.
I left my body.
Sat next to it.
Translucent blue spirit
Gazing upon myself.
We rode out the night

~Susan Wojnar~





Twilight of the Ashes 

Ashes, ashes, falling down
Out of a predawn sky.
I am driving, driving
Out of necessity.
The mother of invention keeps creating
Out of my mind.
Ashes, ashes raining down
From a phantom steel mill sky.

A graveyard shift canopy.
Is it Heaven....crack it open.
Bursting with the gritty sooty dead.
Out of necessity
The mother of invention keeps creating
Out of my mind.
Ashes, ashes falling down.

I am driving, driving.
Frantically dialing and dialing the radio.
Does anyone else know
About this explosion over Mayfield Heights?
I roll the window up, down, up, down.
Is this acid rain? Will it burn my skin?
It does not!

I am driving, driving
‘midst the gritty sooty ashes of the dead
On Mayfield Avenue at 3 a.m.
I am all alone.
I am not!
A black man walking along the side of the road.
Does he see the ashes?
He looks up to the sky, reveling in heavens exhaust.
Encouraged, because he is a black man,
I pull over to the side of the road,
stick my face out of the window
and reach with my tongue towards heaven.

I am driving, driving
Dialing and dialing the radio.
My son's voice tumbles out.
Rips and reaches
From inside the old school rhythm and blues
To his three years AWOL mother.
I scream at the radio, “Can you hear me?
I can hear you.
You are on the radio!
And I can hear you!
Its your mother I think I am dying!”

My sons voice insinuates itself
Between Al Greenes shouts and moans.
He sounds bored, disinterested.
I am sobbing, sobbing,
“Are you alive? Are you ok?
I can hear you on the radio”
His voice, a monotone,
Fades in and out through the polyrhythms.
I strain to hear his words
He is distant, blase.

I am sobbing, sobbing.
My sons voice -- imbedded in the airwaves.
But we cannot connect.
I am sobbing I love you I love you I love you
I think I am dying just remember I love you
No reply at all.
Is anybody listening?
Theres no reply at all.

I feel the dead within me
The dead
Fill me.

~Susan Wojnar~



Deborah #2



After an hour of sleep
I suddenly wake,
alone in the hotel bed,
and after feeling something crawl across
my arm,
and on the wall, beyond the other side of
the bed,
a spider
big as a dinner plate
and I turn the light on
get up out of bed
carrying the thick paperback book
I'd been reading before sleep,
I walk around the bed,
no spider:
not behind the lamp stand
or under it
or on the floor...
Did it go under the bed?
I decide to stay awake all night,
keep the light on
keep the book handy,
but quickly
I become sleepy
wrap the blanket around my head
and lay face-down
(keep the spider out)
but then
I start to wonder if
it was a waking-dream
how could I have seen a spider from
across the room, in the dark?
And what would a giant spider be doing
in the state of Maine?
I fall back asleep and
then I dream
about a guy who catches spiders
and keeps them as pets.

~Wayne F. Burke~




Crows fly from me
and the neighbor does not reply to
"good morning."
At the family reunion the
relatives move to a different table
after I sit.
I say "fuck 'em,"
or could 
but won't
because I need six to carry
my casket,
and besides,
I have become comfortable with
most of the time;
not to say that
I do not need other people.
I do.
Not in crowds necessarily but
cheek to cheek
and otherwise.

~Wayne F. Burke~




Yesterday fades
into the past
faster and faster,
until blank spaces
confuse memory,
recall falters,
making us worry
as deterioration
devours us.


When Greed Prevails

As an empire fades
servants of the state
see an end to careers
built on exercising power
that brought prosperity,
the reward for loyalty.
The average citizens
support the nation
by payment of taxes,
their sons and daughters
join the military,
obey the orders
sending them to foreign shores
where they are wounded, bleed, die
without ever knowing
they sacrificed themselves
for the profit of a few,
who retain their riches
while everyone else
sinks into poverty.


The Antichrist and I, and Foreplay

I used to keep a small, wooden box under the bed. Inside was a thumbtack, a sewing needle, and an old knife from the kitchen no one would miss. Later, a different knife, this time in the nightstand, and a tiny pin rattling around in a drawer.

Opening the skin is best done at the leg, where the skin pulls thinner than the rest. The soft inner thigh, so close to the whisper of an artery, is a lingering memory where the scratching grew into crosshatch. There, on the floor, I wished and wished: don’t let me live long, but let me live bright and better. Wherever you are, wrap me in your wings and squeeze and squeeze until it’s time for us all to go at once, for good.

What is worthy, I ask Michael, if I’m left with this? And I know this is wrong, because he is another this, and this is an exchange both fair and even.

Before this, the antichrist and I lit nine white candles and spread them around the room.

The things I’d cut to the bone with but can’t: cymbals tapping gently; a burning; Michael’s lips; a crescendo; the crack of lightning; petrichor.

Watch me instead, he says. And in his left hand is a silver dagger. My eyes open wide, and I taste the sweat between us.

Where, where.

You know where, he says. The candlelight spreads along the curtains, and the bed, and his bare body. He raises an arm and the palm of his hand holds the dagger that cuts to the bone. His right arm streaks red.

I reach out a hand to touch, and trace the warm blood along his bicep, and as I do, his wound closes up. He smiles, presses the dagger to his chest, and draws a vertical line.

Slower, please, I say. My hands shake against him.

His eyes meet my eyes, and he digs the dagger along his chest in a horizontal line. The dagger disappears, and my hands move to the bloody cross on his chest in the space of a breath. He’s right. I know where.

His fingers spread my skin taut. His fingers are a tether between the profane and sacred.

Sometimes seeing blood is the only way through, but a scratch, and then repetition, can also be enough.

~Nicole Oquendo~



Welkin Waltz

Just 8% shy of the speed
of light, we're too fast
for motorways—the theoretical
spacecraft design
of our skeletal structure,
the jet fuel of our muscles
lifting us into flight
and beyond.

We accelerate
for reach. We burn
antimatter, a pas de bourree
between the spiraling arms
of galaxies.

Our interstellar
dance steps
invent history, tapping out epochs.
We choose the slain,
welcome them to
the journey.

We invite you
to our new star. Imagine
such interstellar flight.
Join us for air so thin
you won’t breath. Thoughts release.

Your body becomes
made of
particles, stardust,
aurora borealis
in our wake,
in the nothing night
of space.