Jacqueline Suskin is a writer and performance poet based in Los Angeles. She is the author of three books, the latest being The Edge of The Continent Volume One-The Forest (Rare Bird 2018). Known for her project Poem Store, Suskin composes improvisational poetry for patrons who choose both a topic and a price in exchange for a unique verse. Poem Store has been her main occupation since 2009 and has taken her around the world. Suskin was honored by Michelle Obama at the White House as a Turnaround Artist, and her work has been featured in New York Times, T Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and various other publications. She has collaborated with fashion brands Alice + Olivia and Nasty Gal, and recently created an installation for Nike in an attempt to find endless ways to bring poetry into the mainstream.
These poems explore humanity's connection to the natural world. Theys take an intimate look at our feeling of disconnect from nature and the reality of our inability to separate from earth, the place where we live, the elements we are made of, and the history of our earthbound evolution.
Oh great city, when he escapes
to the forest he still feels the presence
of your weight. He leaves town
and surrenders, sitting below a giant tree,
pennies and acorns in his pockets.
Maybe he is healed by the clean air,
maybe he sees a cougar or hears
the call of an owl.
Can he understand each omen?
He falls asleep, leaning against the trunk,
and only dreams of darkness.
Then he makes his way back down—
forgetful, recharged, new.
Remember, we are nature.
All choices continue to be animal.
Apartments are like dens
packed close together.
In proximity we need to recall
the rhythmic seasons: summer
for openness, fall for gathering,
winter for solitude, spring for rebirth.
Yet, we don’t.
We let our minds take the position
of the North Star, we get used to being
our own guides and miss out
on the wisdom of our earthly inner voice.
Hear now, the murmur beneath all that clatter.
Like a river, like a slow and steady birdsong.
The connection seems to have gone silent,
as if leaving us with hard streets
and doors pulled shut.
High tips of buildings
and persuading us into awe
while we try to brush off a feeling,
like a spider or tick behind the ear.
Whatever we make with our hands
will forever be terrestrial, blood and bone
built into intellect, particle upon particle
to construct the dirt, the byway,
the apple and the cave.
We will forever be of it, this place,
even as we chip away at its foundation,
even as we long for the hills where no other
humans reside. Earth will swallow us up.
Natural rebirth, the city undone
and done again as flesh, as lead, as leaf,
or as waves washing away the shore.