PoetryIssue 08 | February 2010

Two poems by Sue Burge

The Distractor Brides of St Petersburg

As we walk from the Peter and Paul Fortress,
my mind is full of the Romanov women with
their armour plating of hidden jewellery,
taking bullet after bullet.

Slowly we realise that at every corner
the same scene is unfolding :
a glossy white stretch limo,
entwined gold rings on the sleek bonnet,
blonde or brunette beehived brides
in creamy satin and thick white pelts.

Classic vistas frame their radiance :
the Birzhevoy Bridge, the River Neva
freezing to a still, grey porridge.
The Winter Palace, St Isaac’s Cathedral,
the Church on Spilled Blood’s patterned domes
turning snowflakes into kaleidoscopes.

Fairytale scenes of snow queenliness.
Mosaics of smashed champagne flutes.
Icy streams of celebration.
Floating feathers of released doves.
We stop once, twice, ten times -
uninvited witnesses of breathless promises
hanging in the air like frozen banners.

As we watch, the silky fingers of Petersburg
pickpockets expertly take all we have.
By the time we realise all the brides are identical,
with their fixed matryoska smiles,
we are naked from head to toe.

We stumble down Nevsky Prospect towards our hotel
along a conveyor belt of rolling champagne bottles.
Our pink skin hoaring,
ice at our hearts and groins,
ripe snow brides.

 1 2 >

About the author

Sue Burge’s house is packed with exotica. She has immersed herself in hot springs on three continents, ridden horses, mules, camels, elephants and bicycles, and attended more wild and wonderful religious ceremonies than she can count. You can find Sue Burge’s poetry in Mslexia, Poetry in the Waiting Room, and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), as well as in two anthologies: Tales of Eastern Promise and Up to our Necks in it.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok