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81 · Dec 2019
Lost and Found
Sue Collins Dec 2019
That nagging feeling that something is missing. All limbs accounted for. I’m at a loss. Searching high and low.
I felt increasingly as if someone was watching me as I ran around in a panic looking for this unknown piece.
It must be either a necessity or a beloved something. It’s bound to be in the last place I would think to look.

I couldn’t find good suspects inside so wandered about my property. There was an old tree I loved as a child.
It has a hollow that sparked something in me, a glimpse backwards to a young girl very frightened and disturbed.
I reached in and found a small, pristine kitchen knife, an obscene relic never used that gave comfort just being.

Ghosts surround me now. They torture me, dancing their devil steps toward me as I remember. I remember. I remember.
I have found what I what I was searching for. The unknown piece has fought its way from oblivion, refusing to stay quiet.
I  shout the unspeakable, the tree my witness and my solace. With tears of strength, I say “R.I.P.” to the little girl lost but found.
81 · Aug 2019
The Baobab tree
Sue Collins Aug 2019
An ungainly creature at first sight. A massive trunk with but a small canopy.
Ancient creatures as old as two thousand years that feed the world with pride.

Many have fairy-tale hollows massive enough to house critters and humans alike.
Every part of this monument blesses us with resources we use every day – no waste here.

The Baobab is the tree of life, never giving up. It deserves respect and reverence.
If you are ever so lucky to meet up with the Baobab, touch it with love.

And ponder its creation, this upside down species that spans the centuries.
Did it spring forth ready to do business, or did it adapt to its environment?

Is its existence assured, safe from predators who crawl all hunched over on two legs?
Only if the upright and valiant two-leggers among us prevail against the troglodytes.
81 · Sep 2019
Time was
Sue Collins Sep 2019
It’s dark now, so it must be night. That was the rule by which we all played. We were faithful to time.
We could set our clocks on what we knew to be true. We had alarms to wake us up at the right time.
Time was on our side, if you look at it that way. It was clear and honest, and unmistakable. Unequivocal.

As time has gone by, we’re losing the old goalposts. We’re benighted by the loss of what held us together.
Big Ben silently weeps for what was. Watchmakers have no more time. We’re spinning out of control.
Frenzied by no schedule, no boundaries, we bump viciously into one another in a stupefied dance.

Lovers without time, friends untested by time, no time for resolutions of peace and good will, no time at all.
Time was our truth, not yielding to whims, never fake or malicious. It existed outside the realm of deceit.
But dark forces destroyed time and bent it to their will. Will we ever have time again?
79 · Jan 2020
Dark clouds
Sue Collins Jan 2020
My mama always told me that brooding clouds meant that God was angry with his flock.
Portentous, gloomy, and downright depressing – they take over the sky as if they owned it.
Simply skipping rocks as I went, I kept trying to figure out a way to ward off their evil spell.

But growing up has its own unique benefits. No longer need I depend upon another’s superstition.
I’m a gloom lover, forever waiting for those dark clouds to wrap me up like a swaddling blanket.
A refugee from from the blinding clarity and judgmental vision of the sun that takes no prisoners.
78 · Sep 2019
Free Fall
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Seeing everything as if on bleary film, speed of lightning, no depth perception, just limbs akimbo.
Life parts full of monstrous deeds and impossible beauty as if on equal footing, no judgment required.
Spiraling streams headed for passive rivers that hold the secrets of old bones and remnants of dreams.

Words and deeds flow in and out as if celebrating this moment in time. The cringe-worthy vie for space
And overtake the selfless and noteworthy, as if in competition for my soul, watching comfortably from afar.
The reel to reel trajectory is determinedly straight and on time as my body now glides back to earth.
78 · Jul 2019
The Ocean
Sue Collins Jul 2019
The tides give me structure.
The waves delight and frighten.

The water both cools me and gives me warmth.
The sand between my toes is childhood.

Its qualities and inhabitants preserve my life and humanity.
Swimming at dawn exercises my  body and mind.

I will lovingly walk into the deep when it’s time.
The ocean will be my eternal pillow.
78 · Dec 2020
The void
Sue Collins Dec 2020
Light is too easily eclipsed by darkness, its power denigrated and belittled.
The mind is limited to black and white, with gray the matter that’s evident.

My cup is half full of regrets and third chances, success lingering in the shadow.
The other half presses on with optimistic revelations and a nod to the sun’s glow,

A glow that has more meaning as I get closer to my own horizon. I can feel its warmth holding my swaddled body, reassuring me that the past is irretrievable,

And the future is preordained at the end. The sun will be with me then and forever.
77 · Oct 2019
Little boxes everywhere
Sue Collins Oct 2019
Words come tumbling out of them. I sit surrounded by empty satin-wrapped wordy boxes purged of their contents.
I have my whole language hemming me in with too many choices. I want my words to matter, to rage, to howl.

I want to entrance and ****** with my words. I want to expand my horizon and that of my patient readers.
It should be musical with complementary chords. It should be a comfort or a kick in the *** or a tragedy unfolding.

Random words? I wonder whether there is such a thing,  given our inclination to make meaning out of nothing.
Throw  the words out in a circle. Feel their touch. Taste each morsel. Try it on for size in front of a full-length mirror.

Some are like velvet cocoons; others, like razor blade weapons.  Some can stand alone, while others are dependent.
All I can do rearrange the puzzle until my words take on a life of their own, until they are no longer mine.
77 · Oct 2019
The Elephant in the Room
Sue Collins Oct 2019
We chat about the weather, the high price of gas, the big win last night, who’s doing what to whom.
We don’t chat about our failing children, our oversized debt, our crushing depression and panic attacks.

We answer our phones, e-mails, our texts. We bring in the junk mail, the groceries, the dogs and cats.
We ignore the surrounding decay, the the worried looks, the angry chatter, the trigger-happy sensitivity.

Mirror images writ large on the landscape. Slithery snakes in boorish human clothing. Eyes glazed with evil.
We’ve become inured to the banal desecration of all that we held dear, forever and ever amen. God help us all.
77 · Oct 2019
The boy in the road
Sue Collins Oct 2019
Paying attention no more just wandering aimlessly as my car interpreted the road. And there he was.

A shock of blond hair and and torn jacket just standing in the road with a tragic feral aura that hit me.

A sign? A human talisman? This scruffy little urchin stared right through me with keening eyes half closed.

Winds and jarring rain arrived unannounced so the trees began to genuflect and birds became suddenly shy.

I felt rooted to place, my car some type of shelter. This child reminded me of old songs and distant memories.

A little waltz that comes to an end too soon. Music that makes me feel alive until it doesn’t. Too much.

I maneuvered around the obstacle picked up speed and never looked back, driving in dizzying circles for miles.

Home is a luxury I can’t afford so searching for my lost life through the cavalcade of memories sharpened now.

A youth looked for me. He watched me. I left him. Just another in the list of memories to haunt my days.
76 · Oct 2019
Chrysalis
Sue Collins Oct 2019
Chrysalis

Keep in control. Step here, not there. Repeat the words. Obey the fetal position for maximum safety.
Keep very still or rhythmically bounce. Speak in hushed tones if at all. No explanation allowed. Shush.

Step out of bounds and risk mortification, deep wounds, pain that reverberates in every part of you.
Wrapped in the cocoon of my own making, I am at peace and safe from the destruction of my soul.

The inevitable footsteps come closer with malevolent intent inscribed  in blood on her overly painted lips.
I’m here, I’m protected, I’m safe. Until. I discover. The shell. Is fallible. Porous. Protection, a mythical balm.

A choice between annihilation or metamorphosis. Die a lifelong death or live armor-less and vulnerable.
I shed my shell. I take a deep breath, dip my toes into the water. I reach up to touch the sky’s the limit.
75 · Apr 2020
Welcome Home
Sue Collins Apr 2020
It was a dream-like state. A state I have come to prefer over the one that purports to be real. Just shut my eyes.
The tide had its way with me. The rhythm akin to love, the making of. A roll of the dice with a saturated sound.

The seaweed embraced me as if I were her long lost love. Her smell brought unknown memories from the deep.
I culled the entanglement of human’s leftovers from her being so that she could taste freedom and breathe again.

When I heard the cacophony of the maddening world, I had to make a choice. I chose my lover. Forever entwined.
75 · Feb 8
The Great Divide
Sue Collins Feb 8
Boundaries have always fascinated me. The separation between here and there.
Fences abound to keep us in line, but the invisible ones are the biggest problem.
Connections are lost before they begin. You wave your arm in solitary alignment.

Really, aren’t we all in confinement? From crib to grave? Free will until it isn’t?
Even so, that’s hardly enough for us. The other is our enemy. We must stake our
Territory with no trespassers metaphorically allowed. “Keep Out” on the door.

But the final boundary?  – it’s beyond our sight and knowledge. How will we find it?
When do we feel that gravitational pull? Not to worry, my friends, not to worry.
The summons is writ large in the stars. That old fence will open wide -- and then shut.
72 · Sep 2019
From dawn to dusk
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Heavy heaving with weights on my ankles, I battle to keep moving, but it’s all in slow motion.
Used to be I could skip sprightly in every direction open to me. A spirit helpfully pushed from behind.
I could climb to high tree limbs, walk for miles, run and jump and dance with abandonment.
But now it’s as if I’m mimicking the journey through bramble and against the river’s current.

Every step, every thought, every plan seems to melt against me, keeping my body and brain still.
Sometimes the effort is so debilitating, the random thoughts so destructible, that stasis takes over.
I am the actor in a film slowed to reveal the motion of running arms and legs, music to match.
Drugs, *****, new agey solutions are no match for the all-consuming paralysis of my soul, my will.  

I want to feel as if I’ve come up for air. I want to feel as if I am of purpose and meaning in this world.
I want to wake up each morning without that brick sitting on my chest and restraints on my will.
I want to feel the steady and true motion of my body and soul, with my heart hanging on for good measure.
I want to laugh without irony, pure and full. I want to reclaim my dawn and appreciate the coming dusk.
70 · May 2020
How did I miss it?
Sue Collins May 2020
The answer was always there. It was writ large to prevent any confusion. Could be my eyes see only what my heart wants.
No one escapes it. No one wins the non-existing lottery. There are no exclusions in the contract. Death will find us sooner or later.

From the beginning I have never been able to grasp the indelible future, rather define my live on my own terms. Then I got old.
That youthful vision I had has gradually contracted. How did I miss that? What day was it when I started counting backwards?

If there’s an artful, graceful dance toward this new reality, I don’t know the steps. I’m out of tune and and just spinning my wheels.
Now I understand the aged rantings about those **** youngsters on the lawn. Nothing will ever be as grand as my generation.

Yes, the rose-colored glasses help ease the way forward and make the inevitable more palatable.
                        How in the world did I miss that?
69 · Jan 2020
Digging a hole
Sue Collins Jan 2020
Getting to the heart of the matter once and for all. Holding a mirror to my world and wanting to make it go away.
It would all be so simple without people. Just lush greenery, waving water, sturdy trees, and animals without fear.

People – can’t live with them anymore. Where are the ones in my dreams? The ones that I fabricated with hearts and souls?
Those who can imagine a world outside of themselves and who can walk in others’ shoes whether they fit or not?

My escape route was preordained. I packed my essentials and was determined to find my spot,  filled with books and wine.
I dug out of this world and forward to peace and quiet. And more peace and quiet. Silence, not even a breath or a sigh.

No one to whom I could read my favorite passage. No one to ****** glasses with a big “cheers.” I have dug my own grave.
69 · Oct 2019
The house of my dreams
Sue Collins Oct 2019
In my dream. Ivy, stone, and spit. A rock garden at the end of a mile-long entry. A pond for the birds and wildlife.
Solace in the wood structure that meets the eye head-on, never making any excuses for its existence. It lives.
A kitchen that is sturdy and smells like everything good under the sun. An extended trestle table for the family.
Lights and shadows in the library, a roaring fire in the living room, bedrooms infused with comfort and sanity.

In my dream. Wonderful people and pets that behave. No gloom or dust would invade, nor bad spirits or demons.
Mirrors in every room in the house, all calibrated to reflect the best of me, the image that’s in my head and heart.
And the music, oh my the chords of peace and tranquility with a sly note of the devil for good measure as always.
Fragrance of herbal flowers and old cedar chests waft through every corner of as if the old and the new are here.

In my dream. The end never comes. It’s one day after another of the joy unattainable on the rocky sphere I left behind.
68 · Jul 2019
It can't happen here
Sue Collins Jul 2019
I sit in disbelief every day now. My body has contorted into a fight or flight stance that drains me.
I try to shield myself from the outside world, but it continues to seep in like slow-moving sludge.

First I was certain that I was in good company: Others would make sure that this was a temporary state.
But dragging on and on, many have become inured to the gravity; we hide in the trivia of our lives.

Meanwhile we devolve slowly but surely into brutality on an imaginable scale. We only blink at
Cruelty and the trashing of all that we hold dear, at moving the clock back to ruthless social Darwinism, at

Disdain for all who are marginalized, at words and actions full of crass hatred, at mockery of the intelligent,
And at the chest-beating militarism by those who know nothing about the history and toll of war.

It can’t happen here, we repeat as if that will make it true. But my friends, it is happening right now.
65 · Jan 2020
Seeing the light
Sue Collins Jan 2020
She picked up the trash on the side of the road. It was the least she could do to help.  Most were food cartons and cigarette butts.
But upon closer examination, she found a ring. It was a rose-gold band. She held it up to the light and saw a twinkly design of roses.

So delicate and nostalgic. And then she was able to make out an inscription on the inside of the band -- “I will love you forever.”
She slipped the ring into her pocket and took it home. Out of curiosity, she tried it on. It felt as if it had been custom-made for
her.

She held her ring finger up and basked in the feeling of warmth and love, twirling her finger to see it sparkle and glow in the light.
After living a solitary life of heartache and misery, she is now loved and desired. Her face radiates heat. Her transmutation has begun.
65 · Jul 2019
The instrument
Sue Collins Jul 2019
One note repeated. You hear the same note but not the same note. Time takes its toll.
Your mind seeks diversity and finds it everywhere. What sounded tinny can suddenly sound like lightning.

But it is chords that echo our regrets, our failures,  our moments of joy. Chords spell out love and loss and death.
The music cries for us when we can no longer muster the strength and consoles us at night when we fear the dark.
63 · Jun 2019
The Betrayal
Sue Collins Jun 2019
The old land, rich with loam and memories, full nights under the moon.
The shading trees bending to the will of the day in fulfillment of the deal.
The calf figuring out the direction dictated by years of habit and will.
Was this paradise or some ethereal landscape of humorous beauty?

The new land is a marvel of ingenuity borne of boredom and greed.
Ease of delivery in so many unanticipated ways that confuse the spirit.
Time. Time. Time. To devise more ways to have more time, time, time.
Time to gut the land, trees, and animals. We have so much time now.

We have so little time now. We play the fiddle and obfuscate. The
Monstrous new land is our new history: the future foretold by the
Look in the hungry wolf’s eyes, the decimated forest, and the rising sea.

The joke of infinity, the curse of fatalism, the big yawn signaling no matter.
Another use for those blinders. Starvation, pestilence, brutality only rumored.
A cosmic joke from the Comedian. A reversal of fortune that was written on
The old land, the trees, and the calf in a language unknown and ignored.
60 · Sep 2019
Fission
Sue Collins Sep 2019
The coordinates seemed invincible. They would forever remain constant and steadfast.
Everything worked in its favor to keep me cocooned for life, the raft on a calm sea of peace.
Tragedy was for everyone else, I could count on that. Always grateful it didn’t affect me.
Surely I was the chosen one, sympathetic but without empathy. I would always survive.

In a flash of an energetic eye, I was split apart. My soul crushed, my heart no where to be seen.
The explosion fueled my impotent rage at the gods whose impudence was in colorful display.
Trying to knit the pieces of me back together became an inscrutable puzzle impossible to solve.

Was this a lesson in humility or a neutral reaction without judgment that fractured my being?
It matters. Matter matters.  What once was will never again exist in the same form or appearance.
The pieces will fuse, melt by heat, and rearrange themselves. I look forward to that new person.
57 · Sep 2019
Creation
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Leaning in, trying to figure out the puzzle. Its arms and legs flailing, squinched little eyes, and a yearning mouth.
What does it want from me? Have I done something irretrievably wrong? What’s the next step in this journey?
For years after,  I have embraced fear, self-recrimination, and hidden love for this otherworldly creation.

Then it’s over. A fully formed human being sits across from me laughing about something in the news.
The interval of years has softened the rough spots. I can let go, I tell myself. She lives her own life.
The horrors that I thought I had inflicted still haunt me on those sleepless nights, awakening in a panic.

In the morning now, I remember the message that she send me on a card in flowery ink: “I grew up loved.”
A Mother’s Day cliché that is my lifesaver and redemption. Lightness, forgetting, forgiving, oblivion.
Or maybe it was just all a dream to begin with. Our connections are fluid. Time playing its old tricks on me.
57 · Aug 2020
The end of childhood
Sue Collins Aug 2020
I so clearly recall the ice cream truck’s music because it meant the icey joy, the freedom of summer .

I always asked for the Big Stick in swirls of enchanting colors or a Fudgesicle when feeling daring.

My ahead-of-her-time mother had to be cajoled into allowing such frivolity in food choices.

One indeterminate day the music stopped. No more sweetness and light.  No more play. Lost joy.

Now when I hear the ice cream truck’s jarring jingle, I’m chilled by its menacing message of decay.
57 · Aug 2019
Define your terms
Sue Collins Aug 2019
Love is that heartbeat that quickens to a roar and then slows to a comfortable, affordable compromise.
Hate is burning white and pure with vengeful conceit and the will to smash something to smithereens.

Religion is the need to belong, the desire to ignore mortality, the comfort in community and its restrictions.
Atheism is that cold sweat in the night, the reclusive hideout, the dark vision of humanity cruising toward its end.

Noise is what we crave as proof of our existence. Music, chatter, drilling, birds,  the couple screaming next door.
Silence has no echo. It makes us feel small. We turn inward and feed on ourselves. A remedy or a curse.

Freedom is a welcome mirage, a nod to our participation in an already stacked deck of cards. But we persist.
Suppression from within or without is the human condition writ large. Players on the stage, if I may be so bold.

Life comes cheap, handed to us without our permission. Moving from one goalpost to the next, suffering and exalted.
Death is a conception beyond our perception. It is an unsparing one-way trip without a backward glance or a goodbye.

Good and bad. Black and white. Who’s to say? It’s a poet’s decision.
Take the trip, pratfalls and all. Passion is the driver for all ordained passengers.
56 · Jun 2019
Price is no object
Sue Collins Jun 2019
I’m not comfortable in my skin. It’s either too loose or too tight,
Depending upon the daily elements. I want one that fits me like a glove.

Would that there were a place to get a custom skin replacement.
I would want one like armor but striated with gilding for decoration.

I would insist on a warning system. A bell or flash or protruding daggers.
I want my replacement skin to protect me from all outside forces.

No connivers, no joy takers, no evil eyes, no snake smilers, no horse thieves,
No acrid pontificators, no mouth breathers, no pulpit screamers, no handsy Uncle Bobs

My new skin would be removable for those rare occasions when I want the world
To enter me, to delight me, to show me the way, to love me, and to keep me.
56 · Aug 2019
The perfect peach
Sue Collins Aug 2019
It’s skin blushes like a shy girl and feels like warm sunshine.
I don’t eat the skin; maybe I should if only to understand.
The flesh yields to light pressure and promises an afterlife.
The juice of ecstasy unfolds into a cold hardness at the core.

Take what you will from the experience of the perfect peach.
Do you see intent? A magnificent oddity? A roll of the dice?
What clashes of meteors, what turbulent gods handed us this
double sword? Enjoy it all, this only moment. That’s all we can do.
56 · Sep 2019
Child’s play
Sue Collins Sep 2019
I remember the ivy-laden trellis that tried to impede our childhood climb up the house.
The two of us, boy and and girl dressed for kindergarten, finally made it to the top.
How frightening then it was to leave that trembling ladder and get onto the roof.

Afraid to look down, I focused on the view, wanting to reach out and touch the soft hills.
As I turned to my childhood friend, he was gone. I looked down in a panic and saw nothing.
I walked clumsily to the center and felt the wood soften and buckle beneath my feet.

I woke up in a carnival scene of odd characters and screaming music, my friend nowhere to be seen.
Crying in fear, I could barely make out the walls. Someone whispered in my ear. I wanted my friend.
I searched other rooms but found no sight of him. The music was hurting my head and I felt cold.

A wisp of a woman waved for me to come to her. She bent down, kissed my forehead, and said “Free.”
I woke up back with my friend on the roof. He was doing a little dance, as if nothing had happened.
My mother was yelling for me. She had to climb up to bring us both down to earth. I was scolded.

Looking back now I remember the feel of the ivy, the kaleidoscope of colors, a dreamlike wave,
a dress rehearsal for life, a nebulous event threaded out of childhood experience, a lifelong warning.
Her kiss so threateningly soft and persuasive. Her “Free” so musical yet so fleeting. Child’s play.
55 · Jul 2019
Drab
Sue Collins Jul 2019
The color of the sky when it can’t make up its mind.
The first line of a book that you CAN put down -- forever.
The dinner party whose guests speak in monologues.

The dress I wore to visit my elderly Aunt Gertrude.
My honeymoon spent on a vinyl-covered sofa.
The flavorless food in any hospital cafeteria.

The water that’s unfit for human consumption.
The air that’s unfit for humans to breathe.
The spent bullets used to attack the enemy.

The words used to muddle the thoughts.
Speeches full of hackneyed slogans for the dimwitted.
The promises never meant to be fulfilled.

The houses in Anywhere USA for those with a dream.
The neighborhood strip malls that promise ongoing mediocrity.
The behemoth plazas contrived to mimic a community.

The mind-numbing escapism that substitutes for culture.
The hours that pass while you’re looking at the clock.
The tedious welcome to each new year as if it were prescient.

The heavy drudgery of lifting and shaping the moments into something else.
The wearisome chore of trying to be enchanted and optimistic for a second or two.
The long and futile wait for the denouement that never comes.
55 · Aug 2019
And the band plays on
Sue Collins Aug 2019
We laughed, we danced, we ate and drank until dawn, then blinded by the fiery sunrise.
We slept little and ordered a car to drive us to the opening of something or other.
The notice was on our phone, our selfies from last night still making us silly again.
And the band plays on.

The trade winds are ominous, the plutocrats reign supreme, the riches trump the rags.
Bully pulpits abound with demagogic appeals to the ancient terrors of the other.
Countries dissolving, oceans rising, fires unabated, and glaciers disappearing.
And the band plays on.

My friends, we have only this moment in time. Why waste it on anything we can’t fix?
Life was made to savor and enjoy, not to worry and fret about anything beyond ourselves.
We can’t change other people; we can’t fight the battles of good and evil; we must just breathe.
And the band plays on.

The mobs are at the wall, bellicose signs at the ready. The defenders of freedom look the other way.
The intellectual, the artist, the different among us are trampled into conformity. No one is spared.
The lights dim, the bullhorns blare, the flames erupt, the crystal night begins yet again.
And the band plays on.
51 · Aug 2019
UNFINISHED
Sue Collins Aug 2019
Looking back I saw my future, the ever-enclosing walls.
The expansive was never there, it was written but misspelled.
The high chair remained, no room at the big table.
Words set in stone.

The flying demon of my childhood stayed close ever after.
Refuge in the written word, the blood of it, the sheer guts.
The hidden but visible truths found and received.
But so what?

Let me in. That’ll work. A narcotic for inclusion.
Hide in the many as if accepted.
Cover the brain and show the hips. That’ll work.
Seek comfort always in the fetal set-up. No harm, no foul.

A quick one-two punch and remonstrative wailing.
How did she know about me? Those eyes penetrating my soul.
I have nothing to give having nothing that stuck but the charade.
But oh, what precocious tenacity.

Testing the limits on a case-by-case allowance.
Risking all by squeaking through until it passed.
Buoyed by time and age into a comfort zone.
The walls always present, mocking me.

Bounce, run, walk hard keeps a person free of thought
And the devil at bay until night descends and all hell lets loose.
The pattern ghastly beautiful in form expected and received.
51 · Jul 2019
Hobson’s Choice
Sue Collins Jul 2019
Both doors are black with metal trim. They are roughly the same dimensions. Easily mistaken.
I keep trying to discern any difference. I must choose. My life depends upon it.
Notice that the left one is ever so slightly crooked.  Should it be perfectly aligned?
The door on the right seems to emanate an unworldly glow that must be considered.

Lightning, thunder, the explosions all over the city, the people running for their lives.
Armed militias surrounding parts of the city, capturing those who don’t belong.
Air raids, screaming bullhorns, no power, no food or water, no first aid, no escape.
The taste of  fear, the smell of defeat, the touch of the inevitable, the view of the end.

The second-hand has almost achieved its final resting place. It’s now or never. I reach out.
Imperfection? A light that might deceive? Where will I end up once I go through the door?
I open the door on the right, as I am mesmerized by its powerful attraction and bidding.
It is coal-dark and very cool in this long corridor that I now walk through to the end.

An arched doorway welcomes me at the end of my trip through the door that I chose.
I step through to an expanse of sand and ocean, feeling a tingling wind on my face.
Up ahead I see only empty makeshift tents touching one another. I hear not a sound.
No creatures of any kind. No humans inside the tents. No weapons, no life. The End.


Inspired by Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West”
Sue Collins Jul 2020
Once I established my territory, I was able to take care of business. No one would be allowed to stop me or shame me.
The boundaries were set in stone with the help of those curious creatures who now had to strain to remember the before.
I have given them this duty in order to make them understand that this is my world now. They are but players in my mind.

Think of me as the chess master, always in control of the board. I don’t overload these agents with facts but with spurious thoughts.
Embroil them them in fear and anger so they will look to me for their salvation. Facts are beautifully malleable, aren’t they?
Am I evil? Will my day of reckoning come? Is karma real? Ah, but I have a great and wonderful back-up plan. Just you wait and see.
51 · Sep 2019
The invisible woman
Sue Collins Sep 2019
She counts them out for good measure. Only three today.
Pay no attention to the body that has no soul.
She is its ruler and ultimate destroyer. No one else.
She holds its sheer weight in her soft, repellent hands.

This morning she will measure the glass carefully.
She will be that unicorn. Barely a breath.
She is safe in the cocoon and protected like a loved child.
Slowly she turns, step by step, inch by inch.

Discipline, groaning and devouring her. So much to win.
She will win. No one can feed her soul, let alone her body.
The mirror is a sneaky mirage that defies what she knows.
She will win. She will disappear. And they’ll be sorry.
50 · Sep 2019
Rashomon
Sue Collins Sep 2019
Sometimes adrift is the best option. Uncertainty, a sure thing. Wavering, a symphony of resonance.
Leave the list for a whim. The cracks in the wall signal character; the tilt of the roof, charm.

Play like a child with a brand-new toy. See, smell, touch for the first time. Angle, circles, wood, plastic.
Forego the plot summaries and join the story. The runner runs backwards, the swimmer floats idly.

Swiggle a circle where there once was a box and leave hems undone. Plant your feet on terra non-firma.
Letting go. Swinging every which way. Lose the myopic lens. Black-and-white pales against blooming flowers.
49 · Jan 2020
Her day in the sun
Sue Collins Jan 2020
The young woman had skin as smooth as marble, hair thick and shiny, and a seductive plumpness reminiscent of a peach at its peak of ripeness.

She didn’t realize the power of her attraction, just accepted it as she did everything else in her life. Her world was full of friends and admirers.

It was her day in the sun, but she didn’t know it. Moving gracefully through life as if it were static. Never giving a nod to the slippery *****.

The mirror now echoes time’s passing, but she doesn’t see it. Squinting one eye, she sees a remarkably young person looking hopefully back at her.

Thinning hair, weathered skin, the increasing skeleton characteristics are no match for her nostalgic vision. She remains in the prime of her life.

And who are we to deny her the fantasy of immortality? Forever young and carefree in her world of dreams? May her day in the sun last an eternity.
49 · Aug 2019
A singular dissonance
Sue Collins Aug 2019
They come outfitted for the hunt of long ago, dressed in colonialism par excellence.
They love the people that serve them so obsequiously, not a wrinkle in the process.
The abject poverty seen from a Jeep elicits empathy tinged with a blessing for themselves.

They are privileged to the native shows of dance and culture performed for shillings.
What’s hidden behind those smiling eyes that seem unable to look at us directly?
Their dependence upon us creases their faces and keeps them singing and dancing.

I look away and revel in the majesty of the wild creatures in their native habitat.
Here I feel on the same level, no confusion of what to do or say. Silence reigns.
Time to go home. How was your trip, they’ll ask. I have no easy answer for them.
47 · Jun 2020
The Pecking Order
Sue Collins Jun 2020
A Darwinian set-up enforced from the top. Who’s on first? The WINNERS as determined by their fellows.
You need sharp nails and a malevolent spirit each step of the way. No sway toward the blossoming lilies. Pulling up your own bootstraps is the American way. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that keeps the WINNERS smugly fat.

And the bottom-dwellers sink further and further away from all the bases. Hell, they aren’t even allowed in the stadium.
Unless of course it’s to answer the the blood call from those whose future depends upon their no-nothing fealty.
You say want a revolution. Well, you know. It always end up the same. It’s a musical pantomime for the WINNERS.
46 · Jul 2019
My Appointment
Sue Collins Jul 2019
It was hard to get in because the wait list of applicants was so lengthy. I snagged a morning visit.
I woke early and hadn’t slept at all. I chose my best dress to befit the occasion. It had no frills.
I kept checking the directions even though it was a straight line from here to there – no detours.
I ate everything I wanted and double-checked the house to make sure everything was in order.

The trip began as do all trips – with excitement and anxiety. There was so much to see and review.
Being alone on this excursion, I had only my own thoughts to keep me company. I couldn’t see much
But did feel the heaviness of the air and the sky’s imprint. A kaleidoscope of colors flashed before my eyes.
Now I’ve entered a tunnel with only muffled sounds circling me. My watch has stopped at 10:32.

I’m beginning to wonder about my appointment. How will I know whether I’m on time?
Craning my neck, I try to see some destination point up ahead. Could I have missed my stop?
Looking down I see that what was a tunnel is no more than a gaping coffin-sized hole in the earth.
I’m so glad that I didn’t miss my appointment. It’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity after all.
45 · Jul 2019
Bonnie
Sue Collins Jul 2019
She was close to a foot tall, with the most improbable threads of platinum hair.
Her fringed, wide-opened eyes never wavered in their total lack of guile.

Arms and legs were hardly articulate but were thin and milky white like an angel.
Her pouted lips sported a neon candy pink and remained politely silent at all times.

Bonnie’s measurements were a template for this young girl – cinched waist, tiny hips,
And ******* that memorialized the unattainable in their forever upright position.

She was gracious at all times, never acting up or stirring the ***. She was not curious
And never shrill or demanding. My Bonnie was acquiescent and always the lady.

Late in life I have thought often about Bonnie. I don’t know where she is now.
I do know is that she will remain a much loved warning signal from my brief childhood.
45 · Aug 2019
For shits and giggles
Sue Collins Aug 2019
Dance on your toes, swirling every which way, until you no longer have direction.
Sing a refrain from a long ago song that always made you want to move to its rhythm.

Wiggle your feet into the wet sand until you can see only their bare outline.
Do a pirouette in front of a full-length mirror and then do it again until exhausted.

Smile until it hurts, laugh until you cry, wonder at the hummingbird’s tiny vibrations.
Tiptoe through your next adventure and keep it as a rare and precious jewel.

No one is watching you. No one truly cares. They are dancing to their own music.
Make your last breath of life be one of lightness and joys, fearless to the end.
43 · Dec 2020
A purposeful endeavor
Sue Collins Dec 2020
The slate of my life is tarnished with rust and indifference impervious to the strongest of solvents.

Waking dreams and sleep recollections scatter across the line of sanity so carefully constructed.

Looking up, looking down, the sky and land shake hands ironically in a show produced only for one.

There is no more here, not even a here to speak of. It is cloistered deep in the earth’s bank of treasures, along with peace and comfort.

Considering the inevitable, I’ll sit this one out, positioning
myself under the oak’s lush canopy with my regret-tinged heart.

Awaiting the next journey full of dust and embers.
42 · Jun 2019
Doomsday
Sue Collins Jun 2019
The morning sun seems awkwardly shaded, the air densely packed with forged iron.
Where are the blooms that looked upward just yesterday? Who are these faceless people?
There are no warnings; there were warnings. The screen is fuzzy with static, silently loud.

Did we give our permission? I can’t remember before. Was I complicit? Did the trigger get stuck?
Can you grab the future and still it? It is too late, said the wolf with barred teeth. It is too late.
I just want to close my eyes to what I can’t imagine. The bloodstained proof of a dying union.

It will be noted by dead historians that one day we tacitly gave up what was so dear to us.
We can only mindlessly aggrieve while masking the horror with the quotidian that soothes.
This grand experiment was but a dream. The nightmare is forever. Let’s slumber together.
41 · Jul 2019
It's all right now
Sue Collins Jul 2019
Can you feel this moment? Can you hear it or taste it? When did it start?
Try to grasp it before it slips into the next one and the one after that.
You’ll find it an impossible task that makes you sad each time and ready to give up.

Take a deep breath for a moment. That moment has already disappeared. Count them all up
And you’ll see your life fragmented from beginning to end. Random jigsaw pieces.
What is the purpose of this exercise other than to frustrate you who wants to hold on?

The epiphany that they are all connected. You haven’t lost one moment of your life.
The baby that was born is the child that chattered away is the adult who still needs you.
No more yearning for what was or what could have been. It’s all right now, and it’s all right now.
38 · Aug 2019
The vase
Sue Collins Aug 2019
It stands lamentably regal on the dusty old armoire in the bedroom.
The woman seems to be dancing to something, skirts twirling around her.
It’s her eyes that caught mine, as if beseeching me to do her bidding.

Around her neck is a chain of twigs that seem to be branding her skin.
Her skirt is tied tightly. Her freedom is a dance, a foot out in front of her
And one arm outstretched. She is eternally ****** yet blessed.

At night I imagine her designing her escape; morning, her resignation.
How easy it should be to undo her ties and remove her chains. I think
Maybe someday, somewhere, she will be free. Whatever that means.
37 · Jul 2019
One More Time
Sue Collins Jul 2019
A simple request really. No fanfare. No ringing of the bells.
Just wing me back to the beginning. Not me, no, not me.
A new and shiny bright version. A smiling, loving time.
I would see beyond the blindness, feel the warm breeze.
Touch the new skin with wonder and place my mouth on it.

Just one day of unacceptable bliss; a need gone unfulfilled.
Oh, but I know what you’re thinking, you devil, you: I might
Become accustomed to eating and drinking without end.
I might fight for my life. But you are now and always the victor.
36 · Oct 2020
Before I go
Sue Collins Oct 2020
Let me sing Amazing Grace as it’s never been sung before.
Let me rest upon the top of the mountain and touch the sun.
Let me dance as if there’s no tomorrow until the bell tolls.

Let me feel the delicious fur of my nonjudgmental pup one last time.
Let me eat as many perfect peaches as I can, hand to mouth and repeat.
Let me hear Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E until it is in my heart forever.

Let me learn to express my love without even a twinge of self-recrimination.
Let me breath from deep in my soul the pure and newborn air of freedom.
Let me….let me… one last hour, one last minute, one last second.
36 · Sep 2020
Magical Lenses
Sue Collins Sep 2020
I thought I wanted to see your soul, your being, your thoughts and impulses.

So I ordered MagLens from the infomercial on Channel 666 for $21.95 plus postage.

I returned it. Turns out I’d much rather live with with the light of lies than the dark of truth.
29 · Sep 2020
My camera
Sue Collins Sep 2020
I’m in a music venue listening to a tribute band in Queen persona. The place is full and buzzing.
Everybody but my husband and I seem to be dancing. I’m on my third glass of wine and taking it all in.

A young woman approaches my non-young, non-dancing husband and demands that he join her in dance.
I could tell how uncomfortable he was, but she wouldn’t let him go. Was it just fun or was it mocking?

Then the magic happened. Our daughter, seeing the situation, cut in. She and her dad, with much tenderness and forgotten baggage, danced under the lights.  I took a mental picture of the glow between them,  love tested and won.

Through the haze of wine and smoke, I saw love and redemption. I don’t need anything else now.  I am home.
9 · 6d
The Precipice
Any way that you look at it, it’s a deciding factor, benign or malignant. Could be the wind.
It stands there beckoning me with a wink and a nod. I take my first baby steps as prescribed.
The background music of my childhood lends a sinister tone as I gradually ascend untethered.

It’s now an obstacle course. No hint of what is to come. No direction, too much to lose.
I’m not alone now. I have a partner on this journey upwards. He remains a stranger to me.
The zigzags are dizzyingly connected. The creation of a new life, far off course for years.

Oh, but those were the days best enjoyed in the rosy rear mirror. Those indelible moments to savor.
The fever of adult childhood, the pull and tug of senses and desire. Passion saddled with angst.
A slowing approaching a slight deviation of the trees, sensed more that seen. A drop in temperature.

I find myself looking down more now, some would say backwards. My feet are moving with resistance.
A faint sound surrounds me, and the air becomes heavy. I am so close now that I can feel the gravity.
The journey is over. I have reached the apex. No more choices. I cannot retrace my steps. It’s up.

— The End —