Poems by Susan Powers Bourne 2018

Susan Powers BourneSUSAN POWERS BOURNE works creatively with words and images in the lovely village of Chester, Vermont in New England USA. Bits and pieces of her fledgling memoir — Settling for Essential: Defragmenting a Life — have begun to appear here at this site: http://susanpowersbourne.net. Varieties of Ms. Bourne’s other creative explorations may be found at these WordPress blogs: FoundArtWorks, FoundPoetryWorks, FreeVerseWorks, as well as the creative herstorical review blogsite WomenBornAlive.


Ineluctable Sight

The view out my window
is my own. I own
the view out my window.

I look out with my eyes.
My eyes are continually
on the lookout.

I’m also often seen by others
whom I cannot see.
But I can only see what I see.

Fortunately, inner views
remain liminal, unlimited —
360+ around the circle.

Who knows what I might
— or might not — sight
if I lived on a square.

Susan Means Lily

Middle name Powers comes from
her maternal Vermont grandmother:

abilities to act or do something effectively
often specific: her powers of concentration.

having great influence or control over others:
like the powers of good or evil.

sixth of nine orders of heavenly angels:
Powers and Authorities.

energy or motivating forces:
under her own powers.

Last name Bourne descends from
her paternal English heritage:

small stream or brook, that flows
only seasonally or intermittently.

also bourn: a goal, limit, boundary, destination:
searching for the bourn[e] that gives life meaning.

And then there’s this lovely connection,
Lily discovered for the first time today:

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place,
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

–Lord Tennyson, 1889

Grief Swells

Grief lays into my numbed limbs
like an angry old woman lashing
out with her trusty old umbrella

flaying me one whack at a time.

Grief washes over me in undulating waves,
overcomes me with its distinctive undertow,
sucking me down under its great wet weight,

crashes me down helpless on the beachfront.

Salt rushes into my eyes — into my mouth.
Sand abrades the tenderest parts of being.
Floodtides reopen dark welts and wounds.

No escape from these persistent abrasions.

I hear the sound of each wave’s approach.
I feel the sting of salt thrown off by the sea.
I see relentless mists on wide-open oceans.

Fogs of grief engulf me when I try to stand —

but I falter and fall
again — and yet again,
for this is still grief

after all —
unrepentant grief
in us all.

The Goddess Speaks

The goddess is speaking:
can you hear her?

The goddess is speaking:
do her lips move?

The goddess is speaking:
what does she say?

The goddess is speaking:
or does she mumble?

The goddess is speaking:
does she talk to us?

The goddess is speaking:
will we remember?

The goddess is speaking:
do we even care?

The goddess is speaking:
soham, I am here.

Sleep: Translated






New England

days grow and darken
despite what the seasons say
settle into this

All One Alone

Alone on an island
in the midst of the sea;

staying afloat
between land masses.

Alone on the train
that runs underground;

alone on the plane
that flies above earth.

A lonesome dot
in a circle’s center;

two points alone
at each end of a line.

One knit stitch
cast onto a needle;

one hand-tied knot
at the very end.

One pink cloud
in an open blue sky;

one round of thunder
before rain falls.

One river’s mouth as
it reaches a sea;

one mountain source
where it begins.

One for one and one:
we all make our

ways — alone.

after Carly Simon’s song

We never know
about days to come,
if we’re real now

or just some
past anticipation
appearing —

makin’ us wait —
with time unfettered
in us too late.

Tomorrow we
may not remember
our own nature.

So step carefully —
sink only into this now
’cause here we are

singin’ in
old days.
the good

Found List Poem of Acronyms: What’s a WORD?

Women’s Organization of Rural Development
Welsh Office of Research and Development

Web Outreach Redesign and Development
Welcome Osteological Research Database

Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Division
Web Outreach Redesign Development

Water Oriented Recreational District
Washington Organization of Reading

Western Ontario Regimental Depot
Wind Oriented Rocket Deployment

Wiry Object Recognition Data
Work Order Record Details

Working on Real Designs
Way of Refreshing Daily

In the beginning
was the WORD.


I flew ungainly like a swan once
over dirt roads in Montana

able to mimic the honking sound
but unable to lift off in grace.

I had befriended swans back east
beside my grandfather’s river

where I was I able to reach out to
touch beauty’s golden beaks.

In the first grade, I crafted a swan
and her cygnets out of clay —

my grandmother displayed these
on her dark-wood desk.

Once I saw dozens of swans rising
out of Three Mile Island

flying in unforgettable formations
carrying away radiation.

Swans often fly at 10,000 feet high
tangled up in jet engines.

Once a dead swan washed up on
our Thanksgiving Day shore.

Neighbors carried it off home —
cooked it for their feast.

Some have no sense of decency
— or swan-like decorum.

Still, swans symbolize purity
in a variety of cultures.

So, we fly on — trumpeting —
calling for recognition.

Along Carpeted Hallways

I searched for my down coat:
full-length, no buttons, deep
sea-green — shimmering silk.

I moved on Persian carpets then Tibetan,
tatami, then Turkish, New England hand-
hooked rugs — all worn — but serviceable.

Families from each culture lived along the
edges of each different rug. They all tried to
help me as they could, but no one had seen

hide nor hair of any
deep sea-grass green
full-length, down-filled
coat — with no buttons.

Finally, someone offered
a short gull-green jacket
to ward off the cold as
I made my way home.

Now — awake —
I will seek and
find my lovely
long silky coat

and I will find
all those rugs.


As April snow swirls
some of us fall — again

not from high up in the sky
but far down into earth

into unseen places of
unseasonable depression

of spirits and bodies —
wildly overdue for light

waiting for new breaths
of fresher, kinder airs

the ones that soothe us,
reassure our bones.

At moments like this,
it feels there is no

beginning, middle, or
end to our woes —

neighbors hibernate,
walk on brittle ice

as we are buried in
winter hats and coats.

Vermont seasons demand
we embody dispassion

yet we long for one more
warm body beside us

each and every
darkest night

till all is light.

Au Contraire

On the other
side of

Set against,
contrary in nature
or character.

The reverse
word, thought
or thing.

At another
side of a line
or space.

Directly across
or facing
the other way.

Placement of
flowers or leaves
on stems.

A simple
learning game
for children.

Two numbers
taken together to
equal zero.

Ends & beginnings
at odds.

Shared Vacancies

Purple bodies stare at vacant clouds
unspoiled by certain recent collapses.

Two flare-ups reinfuse cloud forms
we thought we’d reframed before.

Such uncovered celestial vacancies
tease minds — yet ease visions.

No one knows exactly what goes on
in the clouds, or here on earth.

We’re only small conjectures as we
flare and fade like solar winds.

Simple Present

In third grade
at Stone School in
Miss Driscoll’s class
in Massachusetts,
we had daily practice
Reading Circles —
arranged by levels
of abilities in
word recognition,
cadence, and clarity
of pronunciation.

(1950’s old school)

I was top reader
in the best group
but one Tuesday
I stumbled — and
was humbled —
as I came upon
a word I’d never,
ever seen before.
I stared and stared.
Thought I should
know it, but still
couldn’t figure out

(for the life of me)

how to say the word
— or how it sounded
— or what it meant.
Utterly embarrassed
and befuddled by my
own unusual pause,
it dawned on me —
in that silent moment:
this must be how
other kids feel when
they look at a page,
see little black marks

(all jumbled together)

each one intended to
have meaning. HAVE!
That was the word
that tripped me up,
stumped my mind
for some unknown
reason that lone day.
A simple, common,
often-used word —
no long sounding a.
So, have a moment
of simple presence.

(Ave, ave — have!)

Keeping Things

why do we think we
are keeping things


when things acculumate,
they start keeping us



PEACE sits before me
standing on the windowsill
carved in red letters.

This PEACE is flanked by
two delicately hand-carved
stone Kuan Yin statues.

Yet real peace is not
crafted out of wood or stone
but of heart-substance.


undeterred hours
fill with sixty new minutes
each and every day