by Sue Jo


we crack up
go insane
let out all the stops.
We drip our snot

our brains
our precious time
away (the money takes its place)
We drain our spirits
our stomachs
our addicted hearts.
We bury our children
dreading them
dig them up
torn and bleeding
place them, trembling,
in your arms
in the arms of each other
and finally
in our own uncertain ones.
Cackling, crackling
we are wild and wet and at war
with gin-splattered red
and black madonnas pounding
at our war-worn doors
toxic fluids, limp cords
dead and dying mothers
absent black-hole fathers
with only weird
giant yellow metal
heavy equipment
clowns on unicycles
kundalini tingling
future babies
and our own fine minds
to lift us up
to do the witchy fling
all around the spinning spiral.

Take me
take us
back to Spirit
to Mother Joy
to Guardian
our Great Mother
Father Sun
Bring us back
to our mortal souls
to our plain humanity


If I sit at the white enamel table
red stripes crisscrossing,
will there be egg salad
and chocolate milk,
legs dangling from sturdy chairs,
Taffy sniffing and wagging,
wild sheets flapping,
our voices rising above
Mom's exasperated clucks?

If I ride in the fifty-seven Chevy
three in the back, suitcases stuffed
with homework and games,
three in the front, little Margie sick,
will we watch the trains
search for golf balls
buy a quart of vanilla ice cream
from Cricket's, watch Dad
smooth the creamy top
and mark its five parts
pour chocolate sauce
and Mexican peanuts
over all and hope he won't
want an extra bite from mine?

If I clicked my Brownie camera,
could I capture Santa Claus,
bells on the sleigh on the roof,
waiting at the top of the stairs.
music playing, quivers in my belly,
parents dragging, dark-eyed
and satisfied, chocolate cigarettes
marking the rough blue couch,
stockings strewn from tree to fireplace
eyes glowing, flannel everywhere?

If I tell you I was terrified the whole time,
If I tell you the spankings and fists,
fat and yelling and long sighs
only echoed for years those first nine months,
If I tell you how I've held back,
told my half-truths and silent judgments,
If I read my poetry, where I don't lie,
and present myself, not reeking of ether
straight and loving and strong
Will you take me into your hearts and ask to know me?
Will you greet me unfettered by fear?
Will you know God put me here the way I am?
If I tell you I've loved you and hated you
cursed and caressed you
If I eat sweet corn and tomatoes
from the yard, roast the white hots,
Can we sit at the enamel table,
wounds healed, for the last round?

Susan Josephson is a social worker in private practice in New Orleans, Louisiana specializing in pre- and perinatal trauma and shock resolution. She works with local clients and some who travel for intensive sessions of individual and group therapy. She can be reached by email, or by phone (504) 482-9800.

Also, on this website, see Primal Poetry - Fragments by Bradford Shank and Primal Poetry by Vicki Engelhardt, Jane Lewis and Henry Ebel