Fathom Mag

The Complex and Perplexing Nature of Sympathy

Three Poems

Published on:
June 1, 2022
Read time:
1 min.
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Seventeen Houseplants

Seventeen houseplants
            my closest neighbors
I apologize to you for not knowing
            your names
or caring too much about water    I am sorry
            petunias and marigolds
I do admire your faces    and perennials coming back
            like relatives     who’ve made it
thus far    staying surprisingly green
            and still growing    but always
turning    returning toward more
All those roots settled down in the dark
            with deep     secret channels of longing
They be little anchors that embody
            ever-present thirst    champions
drawing water out of hardpan
            little lives that survive with some darkness
and don’t try to figure me out

                    I like you
gone for a while    Always coming back
            helps me


Sooty doll   smoke and wax    Glassed in
candles flicker against chain-link    On the sidewalk
roses and rocks
line up to resemble a heart    the bric-a-brac

of impotence    Something that is now nothing
Another mother pushes a child’s shoulder
and tells them to drop it   
Leave it

the stuffed animal    Something dearly loved
and loss spits in the face
of everyone standing there

who thought their prayer
could make them God

Fast and Shallow

Breathe    fast and shallow    like a bird
stunned by a covert wall
What is glass to a songbird’s keen eye
for hawks    Certainty this concussion is not
a hawk’s drop and snatch out of heaven    Nope no way
to describe a slap down    more invisible   
or the way the heart    beats now   
lying in stillness    trying to forgive   
what makes    no sense   
finding nothing at all to forgive
Just hurt

Susan Cowger
Susan Cowger is a poet and visual artist who focuses on images that represent the human condition. Her book Slender Warble (Poeima|Cascade) was released 3/2020. Her poems have appeared most recently in publications including In A Strange Land: Introducing Ten Kingdom Poets (2019), Ekphrastic ReviewWindhover, Perspectives, Crux, McGuffin, and Presence. Publication also includes the chapbook Scarab Hiding. Susan is founder and past editor of the journal Rock & Sling. Contact her at susan@susancowger.com.

Cover image by Trevin Rudy.

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