Poetry by Teresa Sutton

Dementia’s Innards


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.

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