Two Poems

by Suzannah Showler

Suzannah Showler’s first book of poems, Failure to Thrive (ECW, 2014) was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her second book is forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in 2017. Her writing has appeared places like SlateThe WalrusThe LA Review of Books, and Hazlitt, and she is the Managing Editor of Partisan Magazine. She currently lives in Ohio.

SINCE YOU ASKED

 

This whole business
about unfinished business
is bullshit. I don’t know
where that rumour started,
but it’s bad for the new ones,
the way they arrive already
searching out some mission
to fulfill, as though good
behaviour has rewards,
like anyone’s watching.

Thing is, being dead
is just another angle.
Besides, the living look
quite sweet from here,
how they think they move
so mysteriously, how
they’re always leaking.

Look, really, don’t get hung
up on the whole death thing.
It’s just one gong getting
its begged-for gut punch:
spangled, showy sound,
indistinguishable from all
other gongs. Kicks off
the action, never the point.

That you died will at first
seem special, and you’ll want
to tend the moment like some
fractured creature you’re saving
for return into the world.
That never works. Death
loses mass in its cardboard
box, shedding details until
it’s too reduced to even try
to bite the hand you haven’t
got. You won’t be able
to pinch its windpipe shut,
or bury it in any earth.

What do I like best about being
a ghost? It’s hard to choose
just one thing. Maybe the soft
wilt of remembering
how you were once alive,
but not who. The life lost
turns featureless and lovely
as sheet metal, directing quick
frames of light into nothing.

 

SELF-PORTRAIT AS PUNXSATAWNEY PHIL

 

Outside, the crowd
sees through
their hands,
pushing back
the sun with flat
palms of light.

Evidence is this:
frost tracing marks
on the surface
of what you already
knew was there.

And this is
what the living love,
signs that mark where
what they know begins.

Once, I was a flash
captured at the top
of the stairs.
I moved emulsion,
scattered shards
of silver over plastic
thin as fingernails.

You knew I was
there. Through
the finder, the view.
I showed you
what I could.

But now this is
physical. We all
have something
to prove.

So go ahead, pull me
out of the dark. I’ll try
not to bite your hand.

Hold me up
to be captured
by the small
screens, garden
of sequins, swaying
like animals
whose movements
follow from
one to the next,
choosing together.

Ask if I can see
the space I’m not in,
whether it looks
like a feeling about
what’s coming next.

Lesson learned:
prediction is looking
for yourself.

I don’t know
where to look
for myself: coming,
or coming back?

Of course I see
my shadow. Duh,
I’m a ghost.
What’s missing
is the other part.

Six more weeks
of anything.

 


Suzannah Showler’s first book of poems, Failure to Thrive (ECW, 2014) was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her second book is forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in 2017. Her writing has appeared places like SlateThe WalrusThe LA Review of Books, and Hazlitt, and she is the Managing Editor of Partisan Magazine. She currently lives in Ohio.

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