Susan Kay Anderson
is the author of Mezzanine (Finishing Line Press, 2019), a book of poems featuring her work as a graveyard-shift custodian at a university, which was her MFA thesis from Eastern Oregon University and directed by James Crews. She is the recipient of the Oregon Young Writers Award, the Jovanovich Award, fellowships from the University of Colorado, Telluride Writers, Aspen Writers, Ragdale, and stipends from the Student Conservation Association, AFS –Finland, and Study Abroad-Tuebingen University. Her poetry has been published in Barrow Street Journal 4 X 2 Project, BlazeVox Journal, Caliban Online, Carolina Quarterly, Mudfish, Puerto del Sol, Square One, Tom Clark Beyond The Pale, and other places. Anderson has been short-listed for numerous manuscript publication prizes, attended Tin House, Colrain, Windward Community College Writing Retreats, PEN Writers-Hawaii, Volcano Arts Center, AWP, 24 Pearl Street/Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and presented Mezzanine at The Montana Book Festival. She was the poetry editor of Big Talk in Eugene, Oregon, a free publication which showcased up-and-coming NW punk bands, published by Hank Trotter. Anderson earned degrees in anthropology from the University of Oregon (BS) and English Literature/Creative Writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder (MA). Her thesis was directed by Edward Dorn. Anderson worked in Hawaii as an educator and interviewed Virginia Brautigan Aste; this project and its resulting memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast, is forthcoming in 2021 from Finishing Line Press.
Western Winter Wonderland
At The Shelter
They fall, fight, and stumble.
I am afraid to touch his urine-soaked blanket
he says it got wet, he says he’ll die
and I look out there.
Losers. Evicted. Probate
rejects. Raining cats and dogs.
Nobody cares about the homeless
there is nothing out there
but more ‘travelers’
a nice word
on the move
into the hungry shadows
of your own home town.
milk. They crave honey.
All they get is sugar.
Upside down. Shoes abusing
crystals on the floor
is this sliding scene.
the size of a forgotten
war. My mind gets taken away.
Alarm set to nowhere
no time. Might I trouble you
for a moment, just a moment.
It’s a long way to Sugar Mountain
a long way to Candy Cane Lane
the ideal time to visit would be never.
Way past the willows weeping
red drips like lava flows
I carved my name into the aspens
which way tell me which way
the sign is saying? my eyes are closed.
Waiting For Prince Albert To Speak
“We’d prefer to live with our fantasies of ourselves.”
When they find the reason for what’s bad
held up for all to see. I won’t be your friend
but your sister. Like one of Mom’s sisters.
Carrying that much weight. Maybe Dad
but not Dad either.
I wanted to be loved. Solid.
I wanted to love you. Solid.
I don’t love it. Understand.
I hate it. Understand.
I wanted to be admired, forever. Starting after my career
as a drunk sixth grader. I guess I blew this
as a drunk seventh grader when you and Corine
put a paper bag over my head. In our room in Reno.
As a drunk eighth grader in Missoula. A drunk ninth grader
in Tettnang. Let’s skip past college. Let’s skip past your wedding
Denise still alive and calling Robert
on the aquarium phone. Let’s skip how I miss them.
I wanted to be accepted for who I was understanding.
Just your sister with no questions asked. I ask them now.
Judge Judy with lots of Chaplin thrown in. Clowny clown.
The mere placing of our names side by side: Tina, Susan.
I thought that the self was a sister.
She says this was
when she was seven. Says
she did not mind it,
part of their routine
the Truemmerfrauen knocking rubble,
cobblestones, bricks together
after the bombing
stacking it all–
gritty, chalky mountains hills
knocking mortar off
The light could go in and out of the butterfly loom
Shadows of the shadow self with a rock to sit on
move light from below
support its shape
the shape of a butterfly.
I saw how it looked.
It looked like danger
if you somehow got caught
inside its intricate weaving.
My Heathen Holiday
Part One. The Bear’s Paw
His grip was strong. I didn’t know
how his cave could be so warm and inviting.
The lavender would not say. Another gripe:
time with a capital T. Isn’t this the case?
My own cage was rattling and I could hardly
remember it clearly. Point it out,
I thought, make it stay. Remember when.
Part Two. The Strawberry Moon
It got divided up after the dogs ran loose.
It came to be and nobody could see it. It got that far.
Put it away now that you’ve used it, been it, said it.
Learn its lumbering talk.
He is minister of that linear territory. Flashing eyes
and extra eyelids. Daring to go underwater. He feasts
on nymphs for breakfast then gets eaten
by a Dolly Varden at noon.
He is always in danger. They say
you can only love one landscape
one lifetime. How untrue.