Thursday, December 23, 2010


 susan ambrosino

Suddenly you're wearing that ruffled swimsuit
you loved when you were five at Rutt Pond,
splashing silver ripples edging out your hands;
feet, knees under shimmering water's shiny surface,
face hot in the sun.
Noxzema on your sun-burned shoulders later that night
after eating steak grilled over hot embers
from wood collected along a winding path
that went nowhere
before you climbed in the black Buick
to ride home to a hot summer city night,
electric fan cooling, sleep drifting in and out,
the hubcaps and chrome on the Buick so bright
you saw the whole year reflected in them:
snow, Christmas trees, lilies, American flags,
notebooks and apples, scary masks and pumpkins,
that place down the block
you were not allowed
to go.

It's hard to know what sentence to display
on the landscape of now
sitting in a marina restaurant looking
at boats bobbing
on water shivering from lamp light,
sparkling white wine running through your blood
shifting your senses to the left
as reason toggles off and you sink
into sumptuous shrimp with garlic sauce,
laughing toward the blinding light
of your children's bright faces
sitting close across dinner smells,
chocolate volcano with whipped dairy fat,
knowing this will surely pass too soon too,
but for now
it's forever.


 susan ambrosino

It's done with a cherry picker,
a little bit off the top each time,
lowered down to the ground with ropes,
carefully, slowly,
live wood weighs heavy,
hits with an earth shaking thud,
kills if it falls on you.
First you scrape off all the debris,
small branches, loose leaves,
drag it away, mulch it.
When you get to the trunk, you begin at the top,
not the bottom or total collapse happens,
take a little off at a time,
small bites work best.
You need to get up there in the sky,
can't be afraid of heights, trust the cherry picker operator
to help you rise,
it's considered a man-sized job, usually
a very tanned man,
but soft, middle-aged, upper income,
fair skinned women are actually better equipped.
They understand it, it's been growing for years,
it's always been too close to them,
in one place, well rooted
though never noticed.
They were busy pouring milk into cereal bowls,
drying crystal glasses, ironing worn fabrics,
social smiling until their faces hurt, hosing down
the driveway, dusting corners, covering their eyes, watching
the side-view mirror.
Count the tree rings when you're done, you'll be surprised to know
how many years have slipped past.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


 susan ambrosino

If you walk three miles a day,
one thousand ninety-five miles a year,
in just about three years you've walked from the
Jersey Shore to California,
left one sandy soil, one ocean, one sharp state,
for another balmier, palm tree-lined one,
but instead
you do your walking around the same circular path every day,
seeming to go nowhere, seeming to leave nothing behind,
crossing no state lines, no new scenery,
no nights under starry skies out  in the open air roaming,
moving only forward toward returning...

The miles of kitchen countertop you've wiped down over the years
can circumnavigate the globe,
traveling out your kitchen window,
across your backyard,
through your neighbor's house,
past potato fields in Iowa and snowy cliffs in Colorado,
surprising surfers on a California beach,
forming a bridge across the Pacific Ocean,
entering Asia somewhere around
Vietnam's rice paddies,
reaching India on a sultry, sticky,
glow-in-the-dark night,
passing Iraq's cradle of civilization,
forming another bridge to cross the Mediterranean Sea,
only to bump hard into Spain's eastern shore,
digging into the wet sand….
Well, maybe that's as far as it goes,
but then, you're not dead yet....
You still are that woman in the early morning light
who straightened herself tall in your garden
with an apron full of plump ripe tomatoes,
squash at your feet,
an apple tree over your head,
two children asleep in small rooms of your house....

Friday, December 10, 2010


 susan ambrosino

You had nothing to confess, there's no sin
you ever committed hefty enough to matter
to anyone but yourself,
you walked right up to the altar, hands out, took the host,
mouthed it, chewed, swallowed.
It was your right,
no humble kneeling, no head hanging, no lowered eyes,
no sense of shame, no remorse, no need to be grateful,
you sat down in the church pew a few moments,
showed respect,
it was what you were taught,
then walked straight out into the sun
thinking it would be nice to have a cup of coffee,
basking in self approval,
everyone's admiration.
But now you've stopped going to church,
you go to your local library.
Though it's small, it nourishes
many more ideas than your local catholic church with its
one opinion on any subject you can think of,
there's a reason children won't sit still in church.
Digital television with its hundreds and hundreds of channels
leads to so much
and everyone who goes online has their own
The internet breaks into your home, lets the canary
out of its cage,
leaves your front door open,
the dogs and cats rush out, they flee feral down the block,
you never know what the wind may rage in, familiarity
with yourself
is something to break out of.
Yoga breaks you down.
The twisting and stretching of muscles,
joints of the body, squeezing excess juices, lymph flowing,
leaving cells leaner, drier,
steady, still and comfortable,
metabolic rate humming along a fixed and balanced pace,
mind at the center of focused attention,
the body everything
for the hour you are there,
mood melding into dimmed candle light,
blissful music, calming aromatherapy scents,
the instructors tranquil
slow speech guiding poses,
like church with no preaching,
no one telling you what to do, what not to do, you
let it happen,
you beget the cause of everything,
you are god.
The child who saved the civilized world
was born in a crude dwelling for animals.
He was mankind's sensation
of amazing saving grace.
Now you bring gifts to a perfect egg
in a room trimmed with good oak
as the light fades into early night, but outside
the window, or on the television,
you thought you saw a missile shoot past fast,
its journey unknown,
a shooting star or an act of war.
Every year you leave
one branch of your artificial Christmas tree in the attic,
buy fewer gifts,
you fill your inflatable gratitude with yourself.


  susan ambrosino

Time is a rock in the sling shot of the universe,
the choices you didn't make lined up like targets missed.
Anything is possible, the moon, a spare tire, bagels, a hula hoop.
There's a certain roundness to living. Small children spin and
never feel dizzy, adults can't turn their viewpoint.
Ride the Ferris wheel, the merry-go-round,
the wheels on the bus go round and round, dervishes whirl
around the centrifugal center, divine emptiness, the madness
of true sanity, your blood circulates your body, comes back
to the heart, returns to the beginning, even if you do not.
The first few moments after you slipped from the hot swab
of your mother's body you lay there on cold stainless steel
not knowing who you were. You were nothing, no thought,
no thirst, no hunger, no desire, not knowing where you began,
where you ended. If your eyes saw, you did not know,
if your skin felt, you did not know. You were merely the enormity
of everything, no borders, boundless. Then memory seeped forward,
separating you from what you couldn't be,
letting you become you, the human of you coming through,
and you cried, you ate, you saw your hand before your face,
you learned to lie, to hate, you belonged to the band of the
human race, not knowing if you died alone in another life before
this one or if you passed on surrounded by children, family, friends,
a lover, courtesans, or a jeering mob, if there was a wake and funeral
or if you were burned at a stake, beheaded, hanged, buried alive,
if you died from old age, or rotted by disease, raving insanely.
You've lived so many lives, even in the one body you have now.
Each life is a response to the previous one, a reflection in a
mirror looking into another mirror, a tunnel vision of mirrors
depicting a past like sedimentary rock, layer upon solid layer,
different colors, different thicknesses, an impenetrable, unchanging
foundation upon which you balance each moment.