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for the 21st century


Susan Terris


Why is it, ST, that people believe

you are competent? Clearly, they

don’t know about the lost jade earring,

the overdrawn checking account,

or how you’ve left the oven at 400°

overnight. Why? Because you’re

here yet not, a kind of magpie

much more drawn to chasing bright

bits of matter. And you’re not

young any more. Nor can you still

consider yourself thin. And stylish?

Don’t make me laugh.

Smart? Oh, some may think so, but

your smarts are a kind of rabbit-

in-a-hat illusion. Or maybe delusion.

And your moral compass? Not true north.

Must you remind yourself again

that your sly soulmate in Brooklyn has

a wife? Oh, really? So perhaps

you are only a faded old paper doll

in a house of cards.

But listen, doll, in your own way

you are loyal and loving to all.

Aren’t you? Is that true? Don’t answer.

Susan Terris is the author of 7 books of poetry, 17 chapbooks, 3 artist’s books, and one play.  In addition to Poetrybay, journals include The Southern Review, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. She has had poems published both in Pushcart Prize and in Best American Poetry.