The Procession of the Living by Susan Cossette

The Procession of the Living

You return to that old place.
The musty salt smell of low tide floods back flush.
You did not notice it when you lived there,
Twenty-five years.

Green lawns lush,
shrubs carved into false spires,
obscene roses, impossibly fluorescent hydrangeas–
perfect, expensive, artificial world.

Ten cars crowd the curb
near the neighbor’s grey clapboard house.

I never really knew the man,
saw him in passing, smiled and waved.
Three small children, petite blonde wife.

Then the Saturday run, then the heart attack.

The joggers still jog.
Mothers pull sunburned children to the beach in red wagons,
a slow cadence to the sea.

The purple clouds and fog hang over the horizon at sunset,
florid balloons wafting in stifled air.

*

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

There is No Wine in this Poem by Susan Cossette

There is No Wine in this Poem

Just a rumpled periwinkle quilt,
two cats, ice water, and opioids.

There is no wine in this room.
I fold into red pain,
the scar on my throat raw,
stuck together with adhesive tape.

I have seen the mountain,
tribes of electronic monitors and surgical equipment,
given enough fentanyl to put down an elephant,
and equal amounts of Narcan to awaken the dead.

            Breathe Susan, let me hear you breathe.
            That’s a good girl, breathe and you will get some ice.

The nurse scooped tiny chips
into my mouth like a mother bird.
I swam to the sterile porcelain surface,
racing home to fluorescent light.

*

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

Misbehaving Body by Susan Cossette

Misbehaving Body

A malignant alien
lives at the base
of my throat.

He has a name.
If I say it
he wins.

In three weeks
he will be in a jar,
his memory a scar.

*

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

The Night Before Prozac by Susan Cossette

The Night Before Prozac

The amber bottle of green and white capsules
waits in the plastic pharmacy bin,
for three days now.

The strap of muscles clenched around my ribs,
The nausea and stomach churn tell me it is time.
My pulse pounds
go, go, go.

At 3 am, I will think of the perfect things I should have said at work but didn’t.
I will regret the things I said but said anyway.
I will imagine every way I could possibly die.

CNN reports a 50% increase in the number of liver transplants needed
due to pandemic binge drinking.
I cringe at the dozen empty wine bottles
in the kitchen trash.
So many colors, each with its own mood.
The good pinot grigios remind me I overspend.
The cheap ones scream of bored desperation.

In 1999, I crawled into bed for a month.
Nothing existed but the lace curtains, the damp sheets,
a toddler and his grandmother in the next room.
All it took was a pill to wind me up again–
a blank-gazed cipher in pink gingham,
contorted limbs, stiff painted smile.

At 3 am, I will worry I won’t write another poem again.
But I need to sleep and smile and do my job,
the one I waited my whole life for.
I have bills to pay.

The amber plastic bottle waits.

*

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.

Two Poems by Susan Cossette

Helix Nebula

At the center, a knowing red eye—
Hot dot glowing, regarding the universe with cold disdain.
A thousand sapphire crystals ring the pupil then scatter,
Glittering into nothingness.

You do not blink.
You observe the blackness in silence.
You are studied from afar, photographed and measured.

We want to know you,
Beyond the disconnect of light years, the vacuum of dark distance.

Short-lived star, the core of you imploded ages ago,
Detritus of dust and gas cast into hollowness—
Hydrogen, helium, plasma.

Are you a dying star, or a star nursery?

Gravity will lure the cold crystals back into your scarlet mother’s eye,
Coalesce into new life and possibilities–
The ceaseless cycle of disintegration and rebirth.

*

The Blue Nude Wishes the World Was a Snow Globe

I am not lost.
Leave me in peace, to count paint chips on the worn wooden floor.

I am not singular.
Just indistinguishable from your vague, empty background.

Content to shut my eyes,
Curl inward, as you coldly tally each vertebra of my bare spine.
My bruised thighs delineated by crude black brush strokes.

I expect or desire nothing.

I dream of being rooted in a plastic dome
Among fir trees and singing red finches,
Thatched cottages, distant gothic cathedrals, smiling gnomes.

A shake brings silver snow, dark crows.
For a second I am that forgotten child.

The music box bells tell me, sleep in heavenly peace,
As particles rest on the plasticine ground.

*

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. The author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, Adelaide, Clockwise Cat, Anti-Heroin Chic, Loch Raven Review, As it Ought to Be, The Amethyst Review, Cross and Crow Keys, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.