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On Suzanne

February 23, 2010

by Holly Anderson


(May 9, 1960 – October 5, 2009)

Frigid night, tramping through a grove of young birches, then — fairy tale you!

Vintage, grey curly-lamb coat — shrugging it off, rivers of hair undone.

You threw blazing light: blue comet flashing wild, pulled into your orbit.

We drank red wine until our lips cracked black telling stories through the night.

Yes, the hair was a carnival, a conniption that framed your fierce soul.

Winter day’s diner lunch where we toasted delicious men we’d enjoyed.

A Supernova Remnant releases heat inside the Milky Way.

So apt a definition of you and your hell-for-leather mission.

Mentor, muse to many, your own painted photos hung glowing — at home.

You heard music with your body, huge heart and wide-open awareness.

Your truest sister: Euterpe, muse of music, ‘Giver of Delight.’

We danced to 60′s Ethiopian bands under summer night sky.

How you loved bliss-state love, so ready for love to smack you once again.

SriPraPhai, your fave: too many Thai plates, laughs, bottles of Yellow Tail.

Radiation round, you ate three bowls of my chicken soup, hungry day.

In hospital you drew kohl round your eyes, then ate fresh-picked blueberries.

Six episodes of ‘Hung’ back-to-back, suburban dad is pretty hot.

The morning bath: long bones emerging from the garden of your body.

Lipstick, kohl crayon, multi-button japanese dress, warm scarf — car’s here.

Black car, grey rain — you said you love rigor, difficulty, hate jam bands.

Bottomless chocolate eyes, brows arched like a bird wing: brand new beauty.

I’ll paint my lips a rich, hard red again in your memory, darling.

Author’s note: Allen Ginsberg westernized the haiku (sometime in the early 90′s I believe) — he kept the same 17 syllable-count but set them out in a single sentence. He called them ‘American Sentences.’ I’ve written these about a fiercely vibrant friend just lost to lung cancer, and despite the ravages of the disease and the nuclear fallout from western medical protocols, Suzanne retained her essential, flame-lit core to the very end. That is, to me, a form of health that cannot be taken from someone no matter how vicious the attacks.


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Holly Anderson’s poetry and prose has been anthologized in Up is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992 (NYU Press), The Unbearables (Autonomedia), and First Person Intense (Mudborn Press). Her limited edition books Lily Lou (Purgatory Pie Press) and Sheherezade (Pyramid Atlantic) are in library collections including MOMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Anderson’s lyrics can be heard on Consonant (s/t), Love and Affliction (Fenwayrecordings) Mission of Burma’s VS, OnoffOn (Matador), Jonathan Kane’s Jet Ear Party (Table of the Elements/Radium), and various other albums.

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  1. Bob Holman
    February 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm | #1

    Thrilling to read this, as if Suzanne were running at me, glorious, radioactive….

  2. Kathleen Paton
    February 24, 2010 at 9:00 pm | #2

    Made me cry.

  3. Barbara LaMorticella
    March 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm | #3

    Holly you’ve well communicated something of your friend’s spirit and turned me on to a new form possibility, both. Thank you.

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