Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Susan Yount's House On Fire

Susan Yount’s House On Fire is published by Blood Pudding Press and carries with it the weight of overcoming childhood’s complexities and rising above the ashes. Her poems are raw and beautiful, provocative and daring. I am happy to share a sample below:


holds the bloated baby goat.
Tongue licks death. He bawls
recoiling neck and I cannot stop this.
Evident Baby is sick beyond kilter,
straw sticks to his teeth. Yet I
still pretend to call the vet
and help support Baby’s neck.

Sissy looks at me and blue eyes
balloon behind saline. Life whiffs
in her hands while the phone rants
off hook. She drops to her knees
opening frothy shriveled goat lips.

Breathes into him
as hard as she can.

To me, this poem illustrates how tough you have to be in the everyday life of farm work. Yount knows the goat is doomed and tries to revive him anyway. Often we don’t think of animals receiving CPR, we think of it only as a caring act for humans. The tenderness and terror make this a remarkable poem.

The Oracle

I have read your cards
today, you beautiful,
moonstruck moth—
stay away from the light.
Later tonight,
when you take that hit,
ask yourself, why do I want it?
Why be depressed all the time?
You will find there is no
good reason and trip
into the hotel hot tub.
Stop drinking.
Stop writing
about your father.

the folding house is
folding faster. Of course,
every time you take a hit,
it changes you. Next time,
you might not be as beautiful.
Next time, you might not
come back. Be grateful
with your life. For I have
seen you die at the Flaming Lips
concert. I have seen you
come back again. I have
seen you naked and noted
your tattoo. I have not seen

your cyst but I have been
your chiropractor,
your gallbladder.
Your antihistamine
just so you can breathe.
Focus now—
remember the house
where you practiced
your death. Shadows
of apple trees in the back—
the folding house
folding you. The place
you practiced your
life, sleep. I have seen
the band-aid on your pinky
shredding zucchini in 2009.

Be careful
where you are now.
You could be drinking beer
at your computer. The paintings
your baby made—melting.
You could be Elizabeth Bishop
burning in a house.
You could be a ghost fish
and you were already dead

at the Indigo Girls concert in 1995.
Everyone thought you were a saint.
Wear your hair in pigtails again
and they will cry at your feet.
You die several times—

your solo car wreck.
This time. You change
listening to the immunization
officer. He will let you register
as long as you only take
one class. Often. There is life outside tetanus shots.
Life outside the fold.
Next time—

You are drunk.

And that helps.
You are folding snow;
close now.
You are barely alive.
You are just a dollar

away from that Indigo Girls song
so that you can remember—
the folding house, the balcony.

Life below you.
The stories of you
falling. Headed
out a window.
Your pink infected
at 9:49 pm. This is 2009.
You haven’t asked to see
the future—

you remember it.
Fugitive. Hammer.
Nail. Just another hit.
They won’t stop
coming and crying.

In this poem, Yount is referring to a Tarot card reader predicting her life along with her own predictions from learning to read Tarot cards under his tutelage. Yount was kind enough to give me insight into this poem as I found it difficult to determine who the Oracle is. It is a fantastical and dark world that is told by the cards.

Almost Dark

I hear his truck throw gravel
so I go hide in the woods.
He looks for me, thinking I am
somewhere between the rabbit cages
and the goat pen but I am not.
I watch him from the creek.
He doesn’t think to look there
and yells my name—
as if I would come.

Maple leaves gargle his throat-call
and I squat thinking of ways
to kill him. He hasn’t quit looking
for me yet and scans the tree line.
I bet he is angry now,
his face turned beer-cooler red.
He knows I’m hiding.

I see him
walk back to his truck
and grab another High Life.
I go deeper into the woods
and pick up that heavy shovel I left
when I buried the litter of Flemish Giants
dogs ate on. He’ll stumble
through here soon enough.

This poem is terrifying. The implications are loaded as we read on to find out what happens to the poet and her father. If you read the other poems in this collection you will learn why she is hiding in the woods and the hunt will leave your heart pounding for her. While we wonder about the true ending we know the poet survives to tell the tale.

I cannot do these poems the justice they deserve, they will tug at your core self. If you enjoyed this review, you may purchase a copy of Susan Yount’s House On Fire from Blood Pudding Press for $7.00 at:

Thanks for reading, please drop in again soon...

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