Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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Susan Osterman, a NYC-based poet, has published three books of poetry: Silence and Slow Time, Strip Mining and A Head of her Time. Recent publication credits include The Village Voice, Indiana Review and Gnosis, a bilingual anthology, in which four of her poems were translated into Russian. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her poetry has been taught at the junior college and honors high school levels. Ms. Osterman works in the consumer movement and has a deep compassion for other consumers. She is also (like yours truly) a big fan of cats and also, like me, has two feline roommates.

(in memory of Marjorie Morsy)
By Susan Osterman
From Aube (Dawn) by Arthur Rimbaud
J'ai embrassÚ l'aube d'etÚ
(I have held the summer dawn in my arms)
Marge held the summer dawn in her arms
Princess of the stigmatized
(It's called blaming the victim.)
O sister & lady of our great civil rights movement
You worked so hard and so enthusiastically
For so many years
All your heart in your work
Helping fellow consumers
You rose above the challenge
of mental disability
to inspire hope for others
We cannot thank you now, Marge
but we can honor your memory
You were my coworker and friend
I'd hoped we'd be lifelong friends
And we were
We bid you farewell
We love you always

By Susan Osterman
The sunlight's golden sobbing
that works itself out as rain-
the twilight's grayish settling downpour
and the rains of the century

As you look into the goblet
of the moon's silver outpourings
you tell yourself something's shiny
but is it for you?

As the moonlit hills
surrender their bluish glint
do you sometimes wonder
if the tint was for your eyes alone?

And, in midnight's graceful surrender,
does the artist feel lesser
for the grandeur of the purple-
heeled moment of grace?

By Susan Osterman
What is life but a bed of flowers?
Lie down: angels will protect you
Smell the coffee; smell the flowers
You will wake whenever you wish to

Violins will give you sweet dreams
Dainty maidens will dance around you
Forming a daisy chain
Whilst you slumber

Do you wish a bowl of cherries?
Whatever you imagine will be yours
Handsome lads and comely maids-in-waiting
Even love on a platter

Happy, O Happy
we will all be
in the home of the brave
and the land of the free

By Susan Osterman
the white birch trees
of tomorrow are moving
towards yesterday

but the sun-spotted dew
on the make-believe grass
convinces us, yes, that
tomorrow will flourish
and the beach spread out before me like a brass brand.

CAT (for Grendel)
By Susan Osterman
On a window
a cat sits perched
innocent, neutered
afraid of dogs
and mistreatment
by those
creatures with
two legs
and strong arms

cats are lucky
because they don't
fall in love
or develop migraines
or worship a deity

cats are lucky
because they eat
-house pets, that is-
without ever lifting a paw
they have no hassles
over unemployment checks
or bosses
they are independently fluffy

cats are lucky
because they move fast
and hide in
infinitely small spaces
and crawl and hiss
with indignation
when their territory
is invaded

cats are lucky
because if you
fall in love with them
they are never the wiser
perhaps wiser than we think
they have 9 lives
maybe improving as each one
slides by
quietly and furrily
they know the saying
"it's a dog's life"
and act accordingly
i.e., like cats
which is, after all
all one can expect of a
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