Monday, June 22, 2009



by Barbara Kussow
(published in ByLine magazine, February 2007)

scrunched down in a chair not meant for sleeping
I awaken with a prolonged sweetness like savoring

the last pages of a novel I don’t want to end
a sometime insomniac in my own bed I have become

a public napper in the afternoon hush of the public library
fiction section unfolding my curved spine among readers

too preoccupied or polite to notice near the “B” section
where the brothers have been shifted again twins

one better known than the other I knew in another library
long ago we were discontented clerks insufferable I’m sure

handing other people’s novels across the counter even then
his ambition an intriguing book jacket he was certain to fill

he had the slouch the beret worn atilt over thin red hair
pale blue go-to-hell eyes behind round wire-rimmed glasses

a brash manner with feigned contrition if anyone took offense
I keep meaning to take one of his books to the circulation

desk and slide it across the counter but I’ve gotten no further
than the photograph showing his fuller visage and somewhat

satisfied smile his plots less compelling than his persona—
a developing character in the novel I’m still planning to write

Copyright 2007, Barbara Kussow

Sunday, June 21, 2009

B. J. Kussow's poem, published in MAIN CHANNEL VOICES, June 2009:


The woebegone Boston fern
I unceremoniously dumped
in the woods near our backyard

my husband rescued with an injured
air and hung in a place of honor
from a limb of the decorative apple tree.

Now in its second season the fern still
mostly a matted tangle of roots and straw
mocks me with its few tenacious fronds.

The Canadian hemlock failed to thrive
more brown than green last year, a scrawny
specimen among five vigorous peers

I suggested a warranty replacement.
“Give it time,” he replied, and I thought
“Oh, do we have to go through this again?”

This spring the tree is a gangly adolescent
challenging nature with a layer of lush new
growth, accusing me of shortsightedness.

The blue spruce has a different history.
Bred for special service, a living Christmas
tree. We took it from its element, bestowed

it with our glitter, celebrated it yet burdened it,
exploited it not noticing as its needles dried
and shriveled. Were we guilty of neglect?

Then, we thrust it back into the cold, familiar
earth where it struggled under our common
watch, finally becoming a tree for more seasons.

To read a poem by B. J. Kussow, published in DANSE MACABRE, June 2009, click on the following link: