Tuesday, January 03, 2006


A few years ago another poet and I tunnelled our way out of a poisonous writing group and set out to form our own. That poet's name is Suzanne Coker, and the group eventually became known as Big Table Poets. (When Julia lived in Birmingham, she was a member of the group as well -- we miss her so much!) Today begins a series of posts of Suzanne's poems. But first, here's a little more information about her:

Suzanne Coker lives near Birmingham, AL. She has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and in psychology, barely missed getting a master’s in American studies and is currently working her way toward an associate’s degree in radiography (X-ray tech), having decided it was high time to get practical in at least one aspect of her life. She has been writing poetry almost as long as she can remember, although it took several years to realize that’s what she was up to. This realization prompted an identity crisis that continues to this day. Slouching into middle age, she continues her attempts to grow as a poet and a human being, two states of being that she regards as nearly identical.

Her poetry shows an affinity for life’s more scalding side as well as a dark sense of humor. This affinity is not necessarily shared by the poet in her daily life, although the humor is characteristic. Her poems give voice to the disturbed, lonesome wraith that lurks in us all. Here she lends her unique perspective to the topic of motherhood; this is motherhood gone terribly wrong for both mother and child. Any apple pie here was made with bitter, poisoned fruit.

Hi, How Are Ya?

My first gig as a parasite
was the Womb Romb. My act
was a family-values kinda thing.
No! I’d shout, hormonally,
no, no, no, you cannot
have an abortion! It’s not legal yet!
They’ll take your innocence
and all your money, they’ll use
a rusty coat hanger! Shrill, yeah,
not really so funny, but
you gotta understand,
it was her or me.

So she toted me around for, like,
nine whole months—sucker.
Then I was on to bigger things.
My new handle was Ward of the State,
but not for long. Oh, don’t get me started
on those crazy orphanage days, I can’t
even remember! Next thing I know, I’m
costarring in a family drama. That
ran for years, best years of my life,
and lemme tellya, I really learned a lot.

Like? Well, like crooked dice are the best
to use for luck and any door that won’t lock
can always be held shut. The shittiest deals
are the ones never written down and everyone,
I mean everyone, always wants a cut. Like
there is no honor, only survival and I don’t
mean of the fittest. When trouble starts, glide
away like a fish. Also, anything you love
can and will be used against you.

So ever since, and I really hate to say this,
I’ve kinda been drifting. Okay, maybe
past drifting. No, no, not washed up.
Anyway, thanks for listening, yeah, I
can tell you’re a good person. Hey, you,
uh, maybe got a spare room I could use?


Suitcase lost at the airport.
A jungle child being raised
by wolves and bears.
Athena, sprung from the head,
lead character in a drama of the week.
Statistic, imposter, political cause,
blood calling and calling
to a void which doesn’t answer.
Thinner than water.
Accident, double, neither-nor,
reclaimed bastard, changeling.
Grafted branch, flowers pink
on a tree of white.
Lonesome, striving, miracle,
gift. Orphan-no-more.
Sudden baby, born
anyway, twice mothered.
Choice to be made, abortion
deferred. Stubborn hope.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These poems touched my reality and made me feel ... poems should make you feel. Thanks for being brave enough to share an alternate view and for sharing Suzanne Coker.


1:02 PM, January 03, 2006  

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