Friday, August 5, 2011


      susan ambrosino

You're safe in the slow graze of your days
Watching the potential fire of the night
Through the open door
Thinking about a short step outside into combative blissful
Wood piled high
Waiting for a match
You hesitating at the table
In your bright fluorescent kitchen.

It doesn't really matter how long it takes.
You just plod along a few inches each day
Drink some wine
Take your vitamins:
Bone builder and thyroid cofactors
Eat quinoa
Play with your grandbabies
Make sure they will grow up
Remembering who you are.
Make sure your children will want to
Visit your grave
Bring you flowers as you lay there unaware
For all time eternal.

You plan on living a long time.
You take care of your teeth
Your joints
Your lumbar spine
Your flexible open mind.
But most of all
You keep your husband healthy
He will always be there for you
He also has no one else
But you.

Sometimes you feel like a big round mass
of earthy Boule bread
Meant to be torn apart roughly
With the hands out in a field
Near a shovel and a mound of dirt.

And sometimes you feel like the dough of white bread
Able to be pulled in any direction
Shaped in any way.

(Green is the color of trees
Though for some it's the color of money)

Then you smooth your hair
Pull in your stomach
Pose yourself sideways
And become
A Focaccia

Oh! so delicioso!

In your imagination.

It's all just the imagination.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


          susan ambrosino

Bone is quiet
But bones hear everything
From their vantage point inside the body
Protected from the ravages of the outside world.

Ultra-violet light, wind, cold
Drumbeats, snatches of conversation
It all breaks through the silence within the flesh.

With no understanding for the force of energy
A reverberation outwardly
That is inwardly received
You wonder one day why the barometer has dropped.

You can't imagine running wild
Through the dark forest alone
Into the sounds of insects and bird calls
With wet dripping overhead
And something scurrying in the underbrush
Thinking about the eyes that watch you
The noses that smell you
What ears are hearing you
Or how afraid they may be
Of the woman who dares to run
Boldly through the woods at night alone.

So you offer yourself something to be done early
In the light of day
Which gets you to bed on time
Keeps you safe in the house with the doors locked
Bed covers tucked up to your chin
The myth of the woods remaining
A child's good night tale
With Goldilocks staying home
And Little Red Riding Hood
Never leaving her bed

But if you dredge up the courage to go
It's a good idea to take some equipment
Heavy shoes
Peanut butter
You never know what you may find

When you look into the quiet of the bones.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


                      susan ambrosino

You'll never run off with some clothes
A debit card and your Toyota Prius
Tearing across the country
To some out-of-the-way desert spot
In the wild west

Instead you spend much time walking
Carefully through live trees
Dodging roots, stumps, low branches
With the thought you'd like to change your name to
Moves Through Branches
In Pursuit of Nothing

It doesn't matter how long your walk will be
As long as it's enough to renew the history of many years.
If you need to get back to the house
For a glass of white wine
Or apple cinnamon tea
Never thinking about the connectivity of events
It's ok
You just go home.

The world bends
Can be worked like clay
If you talk to it

If you let it talk to you
Like it did when you were twelve
A newborn woman forever skating
At Coffman's Pond during Christmas week   
The world an unexplained innocent opening.

Your own private mountain
Starts with one stone every day
One that just fits in the palm of your hand
Drop it in the center of your yard.

You never know if what you say will make a difference
So you just go home
And go about your business
Wondering why it is you are still here
Steering the wobbly wheelbarrow of your choices
In the direction you want to go
Thinking you passed through grace by special selection.

You set yourself up
Blindly planning your life without knowing
That it was fine to be exactly who and what you are
Taking each day in small amounts
A type of slow graze that led you home

With doors suddenly opening
You standing surprised
Gazing into what you thought was the wrong vestibule
Thinking yourself in the midst of strangers

Living another life
With a future to fret about
And the need to invent sins for the confessional.

When you were six
The building across the street burned to the ground
You watched from the kitchen window
The amazement of flames and smoke
Fire trucks all night long
Then missed school the next day
Went to the RKO movie theatre
Ate popcorn

That's what mattered the most
The popcorn
With lots of butter and salt.

Being afraid of dying is silly.
When you're dead you don't know it.
It's like the unborn being afraid of life.

And you can only hope the little pains of daily life
Go on and on.

Saturday, June 4, 2011



         susan ambrosino

Sometimes all it is you're doing is

Planting geraniums
Folding clean laundry

Lifting grocery bags from the car
Beating eggs into a bowl of flour

As you suddenly realize
You've moved somewhere else

Away from the world you inhabit
Into the space of your mind

Where you've learned to understand the silence
Passing through the world

Knowing its inability to judge you
Has saved you

And you nearly let go
But you don't

Instead you slowly return
To the non-porous certainty of life

To continue making a cup of coffee
Knitting a baby sweater

Deadheading your perennial garden
Or scrubbing a pot.

Friday, June 3, 2011



         susan ambrosino

Working in the garden teaches patience.
A child playing piano does better in math.

Soft, furry animals are responsible for the disappearance
of lettuce leaves in the garden.

None of the purple mums from last fall came back.
You don't own nature.

It owns you.
You don't own the creatures who chop the carrot greens unseen.

Like you don't own a child
Can't make him play piano.

Anything that comes to you comes free.
It's easy to stand in the open doorway

Watching the pale tendrils of leaves
Moving out from last year's old wood

Watching empty flower pots
While listening to one small cheeww, cheeww, cheeww

In the maple tree
Smelling a modest rain from the night before.

Nobody knows what will walk or not walk
At the end of time on the forest floor

Wondering about the thunder or the sparrow
Or the daffodils that are always there.

Like the summer you spent on a farm
When you were nine

Hiding behind the hedge along the porch
While the mulberry tree near the barn dripped purple

The spooky, old, rusty car in the back lane
Seemed like a phenomenal mystery

And the crumbling stone wall along the property edge
Was a shelter

Dividing the world of children
From the adults

Who would never understand them.
Though the winter is long

They keep cozy warm
Waiting for the right time to bloom.



     susan ambrosino

Do you think that when it all goes up in smoke
You will be one of the few who survive ?
Do you think you're one of the enlightened ones ?
Do you think you will rise from the dead ?
From the ashes ?
Do you think you will be remembered ?
Do you think you will have a gravestone ?
With flowers ?
Descendants coming to look ?
To think of that woman who lived so long ago
And died just like the rest ?
When you are gone
Will it be the same as before ?
When you look away from the forest
Will  it still be there ?
Will it change ?

Your bedside table lamp keeps burning
Beside your night time glass of water
Your library book left open
A bookmark picturing a tree placed
Upon the page
As you lie in bed
With a burned face
Dirty feet
One earring missing
Hungry, thirsty, tired
But too alive to sleep

Just because wild grasses grew in open fields
Weeping willows drank from shallow ponds
Blackbirds sat on fallen branches
Meadow hillocks moved in waves
Silken air breezed over your skin
Old stone walls tumbled softly to the future
Dirt paths led you off
To vast blue sky

You can't sleep
You're too alive.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


      susan ambrosino
You spent the morning reading through poems
Written by a poet
For whom it is impossible to determine
Which of his poems is his best.
Then the tiny mouse of desire inside you
That longs to write
Squeaks a final gasp and runs
Back into a hole by the baseboard along the floor
To hide again in safety
Lick her wounds
Pant until her breath calms
So she can venture out again
Into the castle of poetry
And make another attempt
To cross the vestibule.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


     susan ambrosino

The sense of it is always with you.
How you feel yourself extending out
From the surface of your skin
Beyond the confines of the body
Into the realm of space and time
Into the realm of what you think is god.

But it's a miracle that you need
To feel fully present in your life
A pop ! that will show you what's under the tent
Making all your thoughts irrelevant.

A shaft of light to break through the roof
As you sit complacently knitting
In your favorite chair.
Hit you square between the eyes
Or smack in the solar plexus
Changing you
Until no one recognizes you and you look
Into the mirror and see someone else who you know is you
But isn't.

Perhaps an out of body
While spreading hummus on rye crisp toast.
Suddenly your hovering near the ceiling
Watching yourself in the kitchen.

God won't go away but it doesn't come close either.
You long for it to take over your life
In a dramatic way
Like it does for saints, the selfless, the innocent,
The suffering, the dying, those who
Take upon themselves the stigmata.

Or maybe a large white bird flying into
Your house when you open the front door
Making itself at home as if it always belonged there
With your things
In your life.

Perhaps if you become fierce
Let out a low growl, or a loud bellow
Or engage that scream therapy so popular in the 70's
You'll release the latent god so long sleeping
Beneath your soft manners.

Something you can call a small miracle
With special meaning
So you will know a force beyond your skin
Has sent you a wonderful clear omen.

But god comes when it's time
Through suffering and pain
Loneliness and sorrow
Loss and more loss.
That's how it works.

First the pain, the agony, the blood
The inability to walk
Someone sticks a catheter in you
You soil yourself
People visit and look at you
Hold your hand
Doctors come and go
Come and go
Then go
Slowly away
To whisper to your family.

That's when god comes
To pick up the piece of
Your scrap of body
Minus the needs, the desires, the money.
It's just you in your hospital robe
When the shaft of light drops down
And your lifted out of body
And the sound is so loud
A fierce bellow that only you hear.
It is the body tearing apart from you
You not wanting to let go
Until you do
And there it is
And god
And more god.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


       susan ambrosino
All of it.
Don't you want to keep it all ?
Every last thing that life has to offer.
Your husband's broad grin as you
Drag him into a store to buy him clothes.
Every last bit you can take from the world.
You want to keep it all.
Your grown daughter's soft cheek
Her pensive look, her sudden smile.
You want to keep it.
Your grandbaby's fist clutching a red strawberry
Shoving it into his mouth so he can suck the juice.
You want it forever.
You son's proud stance, his loving glance toward
His wife and daughter.
No matter what you have, it's better than nothing.
Banana yellow floribunda roses.
The good, the not so good, the bad, and the awful.
Patchwork America seen from the air as you
Travel its expanse from coast to coast.
No matter what you don't have, it's still something.
That feeling that envelopes your soul while standing in
Moonlight, the stars, the vast nothingness.
The something that you know is there
Never seen.
You want life.
You want to live.
You want to continue.
What are you afraid to lose ?

Monday, May 16, 2011


            susan ambrosino
The early morning mist seemed just a fog
   Until you wished
      You had worn more clothing
         Perhaps something plastic.

Doors suck open as you walk
   Car tires rustle the damp pavement
      Garbage truck metal crushes metal
         Your walk turns to frolic down the street.

Many people don’t think
   To stop their automatic lawn sprinklers
      Though all the morning weather reports
         Declare the inevitability of rain.

Vapor dripping from trees overhead
   Clouds your eyeglass vision
      Just enough
         To soften the suburban world you move through.

You're alone
   With the one who knows everything about you
      Your private pleasures and resentments
         Your secret loves.

The one who wants what you want
   Doesn't argue
      Follows quietly
         Listens and agrees.

You always suspected your dog's love of cheese
   Would send him off a cliff for a piece of it.
      You quicken your pace
         Hurry home.

Sometimes the spirit alone goes out for a walk
   Comes back for the cheese.
      Though you come from soil and seed
         the product is far from complete.

Friday, April 29, 2011


   susan ambrosino

hear the bell ringing bird song.
See the sun shine in grass blades
from deepest dark to the sunniest open spot.
Notice butterfly bush leaves hanging in every direction,
360 degrees covered in the space of one small bush.
Watch roses carouse flamboyant,
the trumpet vine relentlessly climbing your arbor
summer after summer
dripping orange amazements at your feet.

It was all there before you looked,
will remain when you turn away
to dream your life is a great sea,
you a wave moving across it,
the boats of each day passing
as they cut through the swell of you,
and are gone,
to dream you're a hurricane,
a big, heaving wind,
balancing over your head everyone you love,
everything you own,
on an eight foot square section of stockade fence
your wind blowing, your rain lashing.

You still have a 1960’s cylindrical metal box
with bright neon daisy flowers.
You continue to keep it.
It continues to survive your need
to throw out the old
bring in the new.
There’s always something that remains.

Monday, April 18, 2011


susan ambrosino

The drip, drip, drip of the kitchen faucet
is a calming, fluid, many sided drip
seeming to run along the musical scale, up and down
and you imagine sharps and flats in there as well
with an occasional mournful sound as in a minor key
but it's just a stainless steel pot left in the sink
with maybe a half inch of forgotten water in it

and you think how easy it would be to fall asleep
to this sound of dripping
especially on one of those nights when the mind won't quit
when you wish to be like the one single atom
you imagine never moves
at the very center
of a spinning wheel

then to rise and go about your day
feeling a happiness that makes you laugh out loud
to look out your window and notice the beauty
so incredible you want nothing more
then to die some distant day
almost empty like your pot
with the drip, drip, drip of all your wonderful memories
slowly falling away.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


  susan ambrosino

The storm comes, pulled by something
beyond its control.
The tree grows, though it doesn't even know
it's alive.
The lion keeps its cubs close, it has no word
for love.

Life is a tearing apart, then a binding together,
broken dishes and holding hands,
out on a limb and hiding behind a bush.
Floral gifts fool you. Wrong turns lead you.

A blank face is no face at all.
It's a balancing act,
take your pick, one toe or two feet.

You know happiness,
the indefinable condition you think you want
can be achieved,
concentrate, concentrate, concentrate
by letting go,
relax the shoulders, the mind, find the soul.

From the ladder, to the mountain, to the sky so purple and pink,
you finally stop to blink.

Creativity needs flaws or you're just a technician.
A touch of madness is a gift.
Most wouldn't know what to do with it. You must have
freedom first,
no one to check up on you.

Chickweed in the garden is a problem the whole town
is having, not just you.

Animals say nothing when they suffer, they go off
on their own, hide behind a rock, lick themselves.

You've had it good, makes you wonder, what
you're gonna get when it all comes home.

You celebrate your birthday, but what
about your death day ?

The wind just blows and blows, the rain
comes down and down.
You always have a splendid supply of candles.

If you become mellow enough will you rot ?
The expressionless face as seen from the outside,

is only a face,
evoking what ?