Four Poems by Sue Standing

Journey (Aigues-Mortes)

Outside history, outside the word hoard,
we met near the wild dunes and the cyclops
of the lighthouse, among mounds of salt
evaporated from the flat pans of the étangs.

Centuries ago, at the tower of Constance,
such salt was poured over the bodies
piled on bodies, to preserve them,
heretic, until they could be buried.

Everywhere we went, we left a residue.
For years, we walked the ley lines
of neolithic menhirs, Viking passage tombs,
Roman walls that cut the width of England.

Now, at the center of this perfect grid
of ramparts, I plaster over the past
with borrowed tools, efface the room
in which we ate and slept and loved.


She swims to slip her human skin,
to loose the knots that bind her limbs.

Swimming, she leaves a trail,
phosphorescent, like the tracks of snails.

She swims because she feels at home
in the kingdom of thick-shouldered

and liquid-hipped swimmers,
in the dimensionless air of water

Camino (Santiago de Chile)

Oro es sudor del sol
Plata es lagrimas de la luna

Gold is sweat of the sun,
silver is tears of the moon,
born from celestial dust,
sired from the eye
of an immense body
of heat and lust.

At Fever River,
a tiny sliver
of myth can make the world whole.
Shamans ingest mushrooms called
hijo de agua – waterchild –
to see the workings of the soul.

When I check my e-mail
at Café Virtual,
streams of digits turn into a word.
In the universe out there,
you could be anywhere
from invisible to disappeared.

Hotel Mande, Bamako, Mali

A paillote over the Niger, under which the fishermen pass,
furling and unfurling their nets in circles that hover
over the water for a moment, then drift down.

Across the river, boys cut the thick reeds that choke the waterways.
In their pirogues, they rock back and forth slightly as each takes a turn
severing the roots and stems of the reeds.

The Niger moves slowly here, and so do the women walking along the bank
with calabashes full of milk. Nearby, next to the tropical pool and riverside bar,
we toubabs are pinkening our white, white skins.

About the author

Sue Standing, featured poet in Issue 1, permanently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but travels as much as she can. She has been awarded a…

Read the full bio

Issue 01 · November 2008

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