Talc rains down on him in slow storms
in every room of his house.
Icicles drip on empty nights, and he sails
away from dinner to the Korean War.
He checks his back for buds of wings
that he expects will sprout any day now.
Craters in his brain’s tissues meet basins
and canyons on yet to be named planets.
Night stars rumble, and he harangues
the dead until he’s pried away.
Shuffling to bed, he leaves powdery
prints: one foot bare, the other, slippered.
I Can’t Let My Mother Go To Heaven
The water around my mother’s island evaporates.
Sand burns the back of my calves.
Branches shoot up, twine around my ankles.
The ocean returns and Mom hollers to me
from beside her stove, where she’s chained.
Her apron drips. It‘s soaked from wiping her knife
that she washes after each cut.
Pearls roped around her neck, she offers a slice
of pie. Listen to her lemon meringue:
it screams—get out of the sun. I could leave.
I could chase monsters today. The tide rises,
but I don’t move: I wait for it to wash away again.
The Fire Sermon
By the waters of Long Island,
the dead begin their scream test.
The eye is on fire, tracks rats
and shadows. The ear is on fire,
hears bones rattle, rise from sludge.
The tongue is on fire.
What’s one and one and one and one and one
and one and one and one and one and one?
As babies devolve into cicadas,
they thunder into a chess game.
Who is the loudest?
Who tells the truth?
The mind is on fire.
Ideas are on fire.
Forms are on fire.
By the waters,
new verses are composed
and all of them are true,
but can only be told in shrieks.
Sutton taught for 10 years at Marist College and 29 years as a high school English teacher. She has an MFA in poetry from Solstice at Pine Manor College, an MA in Literature from Western Connecticut State University, an MS in Education from SUNY New Paltz, and a BA from SUNY Albany.