Susan Carlisle

Flying Santa, 1961

The white-haired man who wrote
True Tales of Terrible Shipwrecks, who dove
from tops of lighthouses into the Atlantic,
dropped Christmas boxes from a little plane
to lighthouse keepers from Cape Cod to Maine,
I saw his big white bottom — not in the sky
but by the tailgate of his Chevrolet
as he pulled on his swimming trunks.
That day we rowed with him in falling tide
in winding channels through the marshes
to clam beds where he showed me how to find
breathing holes in the steep black wall of mud
and dig down quickly to the underworld
of brine and stink and wheezing cherrystone.


The ziggurats of black and blue

the broken tile of a dream

 impossible to sweep up

 in the middle of the night

–no broom, no light.

On waking, knowing what

the shards of tile weighed

and how they cut your palms

and how they hurt your eyes

yet  how the pattern stayed.

Susan Carlisle

Susan Carlisle has published her poems in a range of literary journals and magazines, such as Epoch, Agni, The Women’s Review of Books, and Many Mountains Moving. She teaches writing at MIT and lives south of Boston.