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New poetry now in: Prismatica Magazine Issue 6, Cauldron Anthology, The Horror Zine 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


• Sans mur
• Without walls

• Ritual

• لقد رأيت الحرب

I've Seen War

الشعر العربي والترجمات

• Arabic poetry and translations

. Poetry Credits 

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


The Horror Zine  Wraith

     Ghosts of You 

Additional poetry credits: About

Where the earth is hard

My field is covered in stones. The earth is hard

and flowers will not bloom.


We checked the grapes on the arbors, the heavy globes ripening sungolden.

One evening, my father and I ate heavy tomatoes right from the garden

held like apples in our hands.

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.

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


I’d like to know

how it feels for my tongue to say:

This is my brother

This is my sister

how it would feel

for my heart to know

a comfort here.


Where the earth is hard and flowers will not bloom

I have many loves to tend,

but two graves in this earth are so very small  

and it's always been only me here,


left behind, the last, alone.

© Susan Butler

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 avec ailes douces 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,

de la chute des feuilles teintées de rouge mordant mais 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 homme puissant qui ne rêvait jamais, jamais.

Le cœur était mécontent, vide et figée 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, lui, à l’âme creuse, aussi froid et mortel qu'une nuit polaire.



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


Les jours noirs

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

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

Enfin ma 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, this was only you.  I will forget what you've made of me, never to forget.

My suffering dissolves at last 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 jaune 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

pendant mon petit instant fugace

j’étais 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

for my little fleeting moment

I've been 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



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,

it was the sword of resentment

in the wind.

I saw blood on your hands.

Things are not as they were.

You think I grieved when you left?

I would 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 brighter in your absence


© Susan Butler


الشعر العربي والترجمات

 Arabic poetry and translations


أيام صيف حلوة انتهت

غيوم عاصفـة غامضـة تتجمّع

أنا والزهور الشمسية تنتظر مصيرنا


رعد في الخريف الأحمر

  صراصير الليل يغنون

لحظات تبقى قبل العاصفة الرعدية النيلي


سوسان بتلر

  douces journées d'été finis
  les orages se rassemblent
  tournesols et moi, on attend notre destin

   tonnerre d'automne rouge
   les grillons chantent l'écho
   avant l’orage indigo

sweet summer days done

thunderstorms gather

sunflowers and I await our fate

thunder of red autumn

crickets sing the echo

before the indigo storm

© Susan Butler







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