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Three Poems

Suzanne Highland


It’s been raining since I arrived

and it was raining before. 


Wet leaves turned to slime 

at the shoulder of the highway 


I walked in my bare 

socks. I revered nothing


and I prayed at the gates 

of a parking lot; I was disoriented


and I took deep breaths

in front of a Pizza Milano.


A woman in fuchsia

walked out of the restaurant


and crumpled into glass bells

that echoed in the valley.


Trees stood alone, coats

open like old men.


I didn't want a new god

so I sought a new country.


The woman’s necklace said SHARON

so I named everything Sharon.

Test Prep

what do you know about geometric accuracy


about geologic time 


do you know how to ask the right question


are you trying to understand bee colonies, what constitutes a bee’s qualities, or the 

              precarious nature of being a bee


how many times does the vertebrate brain have to map the existence of the bee


model one or more processes of critical thinking


and what do you know about verbs and their arrangements


in making them agree with their executors, what gets lost


your knowledge of the linden, could it fill a book of field notes 


and do you ever want to swim in the ocean-colored carpet


are you prepared to dive into the procedure proposed for you


do you ever question the origin of your name


why you lived in sleepiness at the margins


why you contracted the illness of plastic labels


why you were in charge of dark conference rooms where people read bubbles  

              and thought within an array of sexless plants


                so it turns out there is                                                                        no worst case scenario

& there was always going to be a panel of light                                                 a cat taking space on the sill

       an unnatural belly                                                                                   pressed into squares on screen

always going to be a fear of flying                                                                        til finally you say fuck all that

       tuck your hope away                                                                                 always going to be queer feet

stuck with shells and soled poorly                                                                   pale as canvas glued to a frame

                the frame, too, in every picture                                                              & in every picture is

       overwhelming it, ribs pressed up                                                                               like a dress ribbon

                always someone is there                                                            with a shaved head watching

you eat a grilled cheese in her bed                                                                              before asking can I kiss you

                you don’t always say yes but                                                            always you wish you had

at the important fundraising event                                                                            always you’re told to keep

       your hands to yourself                                                                         “People from the City” placated

so you go straight into the photo booth                                                           because there’s a photo booth

at the end of every one of these                                                                         & on the teeny bench you snap

                photo after photo                                                                     in plastic glasses & moustache

                done up like a clown                                                                                          in a gorilla mask

& only once do you also go out                                                                                   & lie with her in the grass

Suzanne Highland is a queer writer from Sarasota, Florida. She has a BA from Florida State University and an MFA from Hunter College, where she won the Miriam Weinberg Richter Award in 2016. Suzanne has also received support from The 92nd St Y, Sundress Academy for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Brooklyn Poets, where she was a fellow in 2018. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Apogee, Redivider, Bomb Cyclone, and in the anthology Home is Where You Queer Your Heart from Foglifter Press, among others. She teaches writing to public high school students and lives in Brooklyn.

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