Susan Briante's first collection of poetry, Pioneers in the Study of Motion, was recently published by Ahsahta Press. Poet CD Wright describes the book as "a work of shuddering velocity... an ode, a screed, a lament, a love song of 'pristine and inarticulate mornings.'" Briante's poetry, essays and translations, have recently appeared in Damn the Caesars, Fascicle, Bombay Gin and The Believer. From 1992-1997, she lived in Mexico City where she worked for the magazines Artes de Mťxico and Mandorla. Briante is an assistant professor of aesthetic studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Three poems by Susan Briante


Big Theory

This morning, a red woodpecker scales the live oak
a demolition/construction
           the phone rings           makes its erasures:
           a dream in which Iím revising a list with my father—gone
the way of whole neighborhoods in the Bronx.

Robert Moses shrugs his concrete shoulders
           Robert Moses, I say, drop the knife.

In the summer of 2001, I lived in the Bowery, took photographs

of police call boxes,

took the train through Newark, NJ: warehouse, community college, broadface
           of the projects irregardless of choices. I was a lonely child, loved looking
at things no one would notice: Rahway,        Linden,        Elizabeth: the many-eyed, bricked-up, gold-domed, on the platform waiting.

So far as we feel sympathy, we are not accomplices.

Thick rain     and tree roots knuckle the sidewalk.
           In Newark, NJ, the sidewalks were slate gray, dark as thunderheads
big bang        big theory        of charge/discharge.

As a child, I thought I could save my motherís life by stepping in front of her.


Chalk Marks On The Front Walk

Calendula by the curb       an empty watering can

As I pull him across the lawn, the toddler
holds on to one side of his wagon
           cups his balls with the other hand

July wren on a telephone wire.          A silver
less of each day.       Whatís next?

From a bird by the hydrant, 3 trills the last one-clipped.


In The Field

by the osage orange tree I found a snakeskin: coiled, transparent, glistening, cresting
           on clipped grass, black snake nowhere to be found.

With plywood a barn becomes history,
with stories to add to the building A family
traffics in burden and grief—what a mother carried for hers, what a father hands you

litigation                   in a parking lot:         weeds buckle concrete.

In Virginia, not family
           individual shaped the settlement
not bound by religion or kinship; in Jamestown men outnumbered women
20-1, slaves by 1619, allowing a plantation:
carpenters, coopers, wheelwrights, millers, blacksmiths, midwifes.

When Marion went with her friend, a meth-addict, to talk to his therapist
           about seeing ghosts, the therapist asked: "Do they talk?"
"No."
"You need to call me as soon as they start talking."

This room used to be the stable, without mini-blinds or surge protector
           without barbed-wired framing the meadow.

Born in Newark, NJ, I see loss even
in this view to a cow pasture—generations past larkspur.

Boys in Jamestown dreamed in petticoat, woke to armor.

In ref. to our previous conversations, to whose ancients should I direct my inquiries?