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New poetry July 2020 ~ Three poems in Coffin Bell Journal.
Poetry now in: Prismatica Magazine Issue 6, Cauldron Anthology, The Horror Magazine Fall 2019,
The Horror Zine January 2020.


The Slake

blood scarlet, spider black, a keening    in the wind,    nearer  -    I ready

tall poppies bend heavy, sway among grasses in a farther    meadow

their breath becomes my breath, I become    moon absolute
Requiescat; soft body waiting,    existence, a flame,    I burn

a burn like opium    night    windows reflect flames,    winter stars, ice
scintillations, frost glazes glass,    crimson silver the sorrow of weary    I strive

to keep the lull, the sate, the slake,
wholly to regain the sky, to rest in peace, adrift,     holy



First published in The Slake August 2000

©Susan Butler


. Contents 

• The Slake

Where the earth is hard

Les Rêves de la Lune

Ghosts of You

My Witch



• Les jours noirs   Black Days

Not Telling Tao 

Three Sijo

• Into Thin Air

• Novembre   • November

• Sans mur   •Without walls

• Ritual

My Dead

• لقد رأيت الحرب                       
I've Seen War

الشعر العربي والترجمات

• Arabic poetry and translations

. Poetry Credits   (this page)

The Slake   The Slake

The Slake   Not Telling Tao

Lynx XVIII:1  Three Sijo

Ink in Thirds  Into Thin Air

Prismatica Magazine  Issue 6

     My Witch


Cauldron Anthology  Issue X    


The Horror Zine 

     Ghosts of You 

     My Dead

Additional publications: About

Where the earth is hard

My field is covered in stones. The earth is hard here

and flowers will not bloom.


It was only me and him, that wordless summer. We tasted the grapes from the arbors,

watched the heavy globes ripening sungolden.

In the evening, my father and I ate sunwarmed tomatoes right from the garden

held like apples in our hands while his father's peonies swung heavy with bees.

We'd been digging stones from the field all day

and clearing brush from the woods to burn under the bright August sky.

At night, I burned marshmallows fat as the moon while he burned pages of his novels.

Ashes on fire

twirled in the dark, turned into fireflies, into stars,

some of them falling

back to his earth.

It was a different world then, in a summer silent like the burning sun,

and I fell asleep in the grass feeling the earth turn under the stars.


I’d like to know whose eyes they have, to know

how it would feel

for my tongue to say without thought:

This is my brother

This is my sister

how it would feel

for a holiday to come and invite them in,

how it would feel

for my heart to know

a comfort there.


Where the earth is hard and flowers will not bloom,

I have many stones to tend.

But two of my graves are too small, 

too small to hold as vast a thing as death, to hold the terrible space

left behind.

All the other holes in my earth may be larger but not greater,

and though I still call their names

none of them can comfort me here.

So here I remain,


left, the last, alone.

©Susan Butler

For my brother and sister with love.

Les Rêves de la Lune

La lune d’août rêve de fleurs lourdes parfumées et d’oiseaux vivement colorés,

de plages exotiques et de jardins d’émeraude éclairés par sa lumière.

Elle rêve de papillons de nuit ayant les ailes éphémères bien baignées au clair de lune.

C’est une symphonie de fragilité, de la vie et ce qui repose en dessous, son contraire.



La lune d’octobre rêve de chauves-souris légères et de trous noirs du temps pervers,

de la chute des feuilles teintées de rouge mordant mais qui de nuit ont l’air de  fantômes argentés.

Elle rêve de nos mondes distincts qui meurent et se réincarnent de la terre fertile au clair de lune.

C’est une symphonie de ruine, de la vie et ce qui pourrait la surpasser, nos envies hantées.



Dans le noir j’ai rencontré un bel homme rusé qui ne rêvait jamais, jamais.

Le cœur vide dans sa puissance meurtrière n’était figé qu’à la colère.

C’est le cauchemar qui rôde dehors, la grande faucheuse qui nous noierait au clair de lune.

C'est voleur de l’esprit de l’esprit à l’âme rancunière, aussi froid et mortel qu’une nuit glaciaire.



Je rêve de ce qui n’a jamais été et je rêve de ce qui ne sera jamais.

Je rêve qu’il m’aimait comme il m’a dit qu’il m’aimait, et je rêve de comment ce serait d’être aimée.    

Ma chère lune qui rêve les beaux rêves la nuit, je rêve tout autant que toi,

moi, une femme qui dans mes rêves se noie.

©Susan Butler


Ghosts of You

You left many ghosts

in my care.


You left the ghost of

your voice, your

rage the thunder in my ears

that shakes me unexpectedly in the dark.


Your ghost comes out of my mouth

when I speak of myself.

Freak, you say, Failure;

those names like hexes you spoke at me,

always threatening something more.


You left many marks

engraved in my skin, still etched

on what is left of me, on what I haven’t yet peeled away

to erase your touch, your every touch, your marks

the ghosts of fangs

and venom.


You left ghosts of your hands,

bruised the throat of my hope

where you strangled it, wrung it


your handprints remain

where you twisted my goals into grievances.


You left one of your ghosts

in the corner,

in the space where I always hid from you

until the day you found me.

This ghost stands there still, still and hot,

all eyes,

the way you stood over me like a disobeyed god.


Your boot prints appear and disappear, laden ghosts

crushing down my bones

to unimportant grime beneath your weight, your weight

somehow less heavy

than the fear tightly packed inside my chest.

You left many ghosts

in my care.


But these ghosts of you

are only half of what you were,


only your echoes, your aftermath, the nightmare

of you,

not you,


and this is my relief.


Ghosts of You first published in The Horror Zine January 2020

©Susan Butler



Because you said so, 

I changed my name

to iron, plate, scrub, dig, deliver, shame.


At first I became a dead bird, hollow boned and lighter

and lighter with time,   


then, dried petals, barely visible, a

mote of dust, and then, then      an ember.



Flagrant, irreverent
particles of me began to flake, to rise skyward, phosphoresce;

irrelevant fragments fell

back to earth.


I am coming for everything

you denied me.

I rise above the clouds, above the mountains, above the rain,

daughter of the morning,

my particles becoming waves, bearing terrible

blinding light.

I am the brightest of the stars.


If you see me now, you will see the depth

your darkness buried you.

If you see me now, you will see no more.


Yet I’m still learning to forget
that you said it was I who was the adversary.



My name is now

birdsong, summer sunrise, morning star, blue sky

because I say so.


Morningstar first published in Prismatica Magazine Issue 6 Fall 2019

©Susan Butler

My Witch


you were sleepwalking under a summer moon

and I followed                                                   

the air filled with violets

when you told me you were mine


I was burning pages and I caught my feet on fire

this traitorous world carries some of us away


a thief of chances promised me the summer sun

and I followed

until I found all there is there

is sand and blood


I was burning a man and I caught my eyes on fire

this sacrifice for a mere glimpse of my fortune   


the incessant tide caught me, faithless,

and I followed

I swallowed memories of your hair in the wind

of wild days entwined like daisies


I was burning my life and 

I was the fire the whole time


I’m coming home  

you were my witch

you taught me

there are a thousand moons

and all of them mine




My Witch first published in Prismatica Magazine Issue 6 Fall 2019

©Susan Butler



I have wrapped myself in cinnamon and cedar.

I have filled my body with honey drunk by moonlight.

My feet are oiled, henna stained with lotus blossoms, my hands swarm with bees

who whisper, sah, the sound of the wind chasing the sand.

I have eaten gold and opened the eye while borne on the backs of blue scarabs

who summon me, Star of Egypt.


Recounting the days when I was bought and sold,

I throw your lies back to you from the scale, one by one by one,

until my ears ring with the song of all women before and after.

Floating like myrrh, I stretch my open bones to the bright stars,

to the immortals,

and now I am sure you can never touch me.


Knowing what I know now

I would never let you enslave me

as the price for beautiful days

not even to become the one I am.


Though you tore out my tongue and stole my fingers, yours was a secret I would not keep.





 Dignity first published in Cauldron Anthology Issue X Cult Winter 2019

 ©Susan Butler




Sah, the ancient Egyptian word for mummy, means dignity, nobility.

The Egyptians called the circumpolar stars the immortals; they were always visible, always watching.

The Star of Egypt is Sirius.


Les jours noirs

Ces jours noirs, ces silences mortels, c'est à toi.  Le deuil de la poitrine,

le désespoir, la perte, la peur, tout n'était qu'à toi.  J'oublierai ce que tu m'as fait, de ne jamais oublier.

Enfin la souffrance se dissout comme la glace dans les petits bisous de pluie.


©Susan Butler 

Black Days

These black days, these deadly silences, they are yours.  The grief in my breast,

the despair, the loss, the fear, it all was only you.  I will forget what you've made of me, never to forget.

At last suffering dissolves like ice in the small kisses of rain.


©Susan Butler 


Not Telling Tao

How do we breathe?

    by becoming breathless

    wind, black dog

She ran madly and now,

beneath broad oaks,

only breathing, she is still;

her mind

    follows bergamot.

How do we see?

    by resting our eyes

    a lemon tree

    Nuit étoilée de St. Rémy, scry

clear fear in each quiver, in

one quick absence of shadow.

    Champ de blé aux corbeaux


    fast black

How do we hear?

    by expecting silence

    an exhalation of seconds

    torn away as maple leaves whipped by wind

Cold stones of earth whisper in the first tongue of the birds, sibylline.

    dark, one footstep, the thunder of absence of sound

Something sinister stands still in the hall 

     the grisly, syrup-sweet regret of the brigand, the turncoat,

     your love

Such a wish to breathe.

How do we know?

    by not knowing how

qu'amas l'aura

E nadi contra suberna - 

     qu'ieu no me puesc ni voill a vos cobrire

Ask me the way.

     the way is the way we go


from lines of Arnaut Daniel in Canto IV, 13th century, in Langue d'Oc, Occitan

     who gathers the wind and swims against the torrent

from lines of Dante Alighieri in Purgatorio, 1308, in Langue d'Oc, Occitan

     that I cannot and will not hide me from you


Not Telling Tao first published in The Slake October 2000

©Susan Butler


Three Sijo


Dawn begins on my skin, sweet anticipation of light.

The earth turns, the light proceeds.  Sun, a shiver of mourning.

Sorrow for the loss of peaceful night, my bones weigh heavy.

"Dawn always begins in the bones."  Hymn to Ra, The Egyptian Book of the Dead


We laugh over childhood adventures.  Our treasure was living free,

just living, unconcerned with life, unaware of mortality.

Remembering when, by his grave, we were immortals.


The hard weight of my thoughts dissolves, now light shines, life clear as fresh rain;

each leaf and bud enunciates, a gleam, each stone in high relief.

This day of despair washed clean, there comes my son walking home.

Three Sijo first published in Lynx XVIII: 1  February 2003

Thank you to the late Jane Reichhold, with love and gratitude.

©Susan Butler 


Into Thin Air

From a distant life,

from a thousand miles away,

I recall the innocence of your hands.

I remember the way you held onto me as if to keep from falling away,

the way you reached out for me as if to save yourself from drowning.

This is all I have saved of an innocence when I did not know

your feral malice would sear me into cinders of bone, one day

your fingers would stretch and ache to choke like tendrils of seaweed.

In silence I was nearly tangible

but as I spoke, you alone became immuring stone.

I recall the sharp rage of your hands; born

to tear the voice from my throat, to bury me, snuff me

still, so I,

I dissipate into air, ash, autumn sky.

        life slips into the air - blades of yellow leaves rain through slips of perilous sun

        someone sleeps on the ground - something slips from my hands 

        breath escapes, never caught again - you did this

Soon only one of us will drown in thin air and still

love is not war no matter how bloody you make it.

Into Thin Air first published in Ink in Thirds Issue 9, February 2017

©Susan Butler




Il y a une histoire dans le ciel de novembre

d’une tempête d’indigo bleu orageux,

des corbeaux sanctifiés qui volent

pendant les feuilles jaunes dégringolent

à travers la lumière perlée de neige

contre l’espace violet,

et comme je crie,

comme si j’ai été brûlée en cendres,

comme si je pouvais prouver à l’automne que

j’étais une fois en vie.


J’étais en vie, en vie.

©Susan Butler

There is a story in the November sky,

story of a storm of indigo and grey, of the way

hallowed crows fly

while yellow leaves sail like pain through pearl snowlight

across violet space

and of the way 

I cry, as if burned to ashes,

as if to prove to autumn

I was ever alive.


I was alive.



Sans mur

Without walls

je ne vivrai que

sans mur sans barres

ni épée ni bouclier

contre tes mains

©Susan Butler

I will live only

without walls without bars

neither sword nor shield

against your hands





wet black ink

crows haunt the blood forest


a bone moon


©Susan Butler


My Dead

Mouth frantic and wide, teeth of razor blades, saw blades,

in the night, in my bed,    she chews my legs down to bloody raw meat

stark bones between feet and thighs

until she shrieks at me    what I do not know

as her jaws stretch and clack,

     but it is pain.


Skin of shadow blue, veins showing through, gaunt and gut-wrenching,    beautiful,

he lounges at my door, thumbing thin the cover of a leather journal in thin hands;

he watches the hours of night and silence    slip into early morning,

he watches the dawn come until he fades with the stillness     to rays of pink and autumn,

and he whispers to me only,



My dead want vengeance for the ways I’ve made them suffer.




My Dead first published in The Horror Zine January 2020

©Susan Butler



لقد رأيت الحرب

                I've Seen War

لقد رأيت الحرب


انه كان سيف الضغينة

 في الريح

رأيت الدم على يديك

 الأمور ليست كما كانت

كنت تعتقد أنني كنت بحزن بالغ عندما غادرت؟

 واود ان ابكى فرحا

 عالمي أصبح أكثر غنى من أي وقت مضى

 لدي الحرية.  لي إسمي الخاص

سيصبح العالم اكثر اشراقا فى غيابك




سوسان بتلر




I've seen war.

Your malice,

was a sword of hatred

in the wind.

I saw blood on your hands.

Things are not as they were.

You think I grieved when you left?

I'd like to weep with joy.

My world has become richer than ever before.

I have freedom.  I have my own name.

The world will become even brighter in your absence


©Susan Butler


الشعر العربي والترجمات

 Arabic poetry and translations

الأيام الصيفية المعتدلة انتهت

العواصف الرعدية تقترب

أنا وعباد الشمس ننتظر مصيرنا


رعد في الخريف الأحمر

  صراصير الليل يغنون

الهدوء الذي يسبق العاصفة النيلية


سوسان بتلر

  beaux jours d'été finies
  les orages se rassemblent
  tournesols et moi, on attend notre destin

   tonnerre d'automne rouge
   grillons chantent
   calme avant un orage indigo

sweet summer days gone

thunderstorms gather

sunflowers and I await our fate

thunder of red autumn

crickets sing

calm before an indigo storm

©Susan Butler







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