PoetryIssue 04 | April 2009

Four poems by Suzanne Parker

The Museum-Goer’s Strategy

Don’t start with the Madonna
dead on the table.
Start with the hours walking
the cool-draped halls
looking for the open window
to show the rain has stopped
and it is time to go out,
away from the grand relay of art,
triptych to French fowl, head limp
on a platter with a lemon,
a glass of white wine. 

Start earlier, the flight
from Newark, plane’s ascension,
nails half moons in Lori’s hand
and before us, always
before us, the idea
stashed deep in a suitcase
like a flesh-colored dildo
or drugs— Hemingway,
Orwell— snuck in as contraband,

and before this, the Hoshi
on my father’s living room wall,
a single tree like a man walking
into a blue, horizontal distance
split into bursts like static
or his bonsais, those
palm-treed islands each
with its own castaway
sunk in the still study
and no one could keep them alive
after his death.

Start sooner with the shock
he spent a summer bullfighting,
learned to plant his feet
and perform the sweeping veronicas
like the opera always playing

in the background, the fierce control,
the huge courage to reach,
stay in place, paint a solitary tree
and I am finally stopped
before Caravaggio’s rejected Mary,
the one too gray, too swollen,
too naked.  The museum asks
in five languages for its patrons
to leave.  Now, it is time to start.

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About the author

Suzanne Parker has recently returned from a month in Paris where ate a lot of croissants and wrote poems about Framingham, Massachusetts. Suzanne was a finalist for the New Rivers Press Book Award in 2008, and her work has recently appeared in A Gathering of the Tribes, The MacGuffin, NYC BigCityLit, Poetry Motel, Rattapallax and others.

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