|Chagrin River Review||
Susan Grimm -- Poetry
Crumble and Air
There was a farm, a memory of a farm, where we didn’t
grow anything. We nailed up boards, collected
stuff in coffee cans. Then earthquakes, the ground
breaking like pie crust. California fires. Thunder
barreling across the land like a locomotive’s wheels.
I who had been used to sweetness, knocked
catawampous, held on. I who had been used to--
not cream, which seems too rich, though Aunt H,
knocking on her nineties, savors it poured in her cup—
We had been skating on peanut brittle,
crickets in shoes scratching towards our death.
Like a pin in cork, like a tick sucking up dirt
(there’s a sharpness there), I held on.
A ferment sizzles about me, insidious, a yeasty
bubbling within. Always eager to run
up the stairs—shouldn’t I remember Kidnapped
and its destination of crumble and air?
The trouble is I want to be happy. The trouble
is I want to be good. (What kind of poem is that?)
In the parking lot of Heinen’s on my quest
for a Swedish turnip and a couple of pears, a man
shrieks from his car, “Why must I live in this world?”
(I’ve edited that a little.) There are statistics
older than me that could be presented, but
I don’t have their handle. Like a pin
hammered in cork, like a tick sucking up earth,
(there’s a sharpness there), I hold on.
“a great number of things close together and in motion”
Turning away from the mirror, I say to my soul, Think loud--
galvanize: reduce the past to eraser crumbs, a pink cloud.
The slow roll of the eyeball squinting inside like a spoon--
the organs waver, the bones reach out like trees—no winged cloud.
The un-eye blinks—virtues falter, inflate, agitate
their vapor, marshmallow up a harp string cloud.
If somewhere a self without features considers, combs
its hair, hats up some ether, cool in a mink cloud?
Or dispersed in some vastness and spread shining like jam—the stars
trundle out—but gritty bits of self cling, cloud?
Or rind or fruit—let me out of the garden now the leaves
fall (this spiraling drain); yet the orchard returns, a succinct cloud?
I cannot let go of this hand, my own, and all it can touch--
soul, self thrust in this glove of skin until molecules blink, cloud.
Spicy, wild conundrum I’ve become—I’d like to think. Spotted lily with a brave and graceful throat!
But that’s not the boat I’m in. My spine a ziggurat of ice.
Walking through the darkened house. But worse than a dream. Clumsy enough to tip. Heavy enough to fall. Foreground footstool. Background rug. Mantle and igneous still swallowed inside the crust.
Or driving down a street cum alley, Roman style. Narrowing. Cobbles and stones knackered together. There’s a terrible scraping sound.
Where is my horsepill of happiness? Misery sifts in like regular dust.
Which is why I say keep your lips mutinous. (In a trice takes a long, long time.)
Susan Grimm is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. In 2007, she received an M.F.A. in Poetry from the NEOMFA/Cleveland State University gateway. She is a former managing editor of The Gamut, Cleveland State University’s general interest magazine, and a founding editor of Ohio Writer, a service newsletter for writers. She has taught creative writing at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University. Also, for three years she was the editor for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center.
Her poems have appeared in West Branch, Poetry East, The Seneca Review, The Journal, and other publications. In 1996, she was awarded an Individual Artists Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council. Her chapbook, Almost Home, was published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 1997. In 1999, she was named Ohio Poet of the Year by the Ohio Poetry Day Association. Her book of poems, Lake Erie Blue, was published by BkMk Press in 2004.
She edited Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems which was published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2006. In 2010, she won the inaugural Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, and in 2011, she won the Hayden Carruth Poetry Prize. Her chapbook Roughed Up by the Sun’s Mothering Tongue was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011.