Issue 11 – Winter 2006 – Susan Tichy

Susan Tichy

My Brother’s Name Is Babylon

                        for Lynsey Addario


Work in shade by the rules of light 
And what is stone made of

A hand thrown up to guard the face
Survival    with a tell-tale pattern of wounds

Soldier stands guard as a building burns
A word removed from word put down

Wrist or wrest    to postulate
Pick fleas off an imaginary man

He was lying under a piece of tin
He was out in the road he was crouched and lean

He was there

It’s a relative word, like imaginable
And the beauty of a decoy is not the beauty of a bird

When a crowd of men point guns to the sky
There’s a pistol in the foreground

On which you can count the fingers
But not the thumb


In the Scottish ballad, “Babylon,” an outlawed man abducts and kills two of his own sisters because he does not know them, nor they him. The third sister does not know him, either, 
but she knows she has a brother and she knows his name.




No Copied Species Are Fooled 

“Objective world is objectless”
Or “One day he slipped”
Four words written on paper
Smell of granite-y rock after it rains

To say “I loved him” is like saying “It’s a letter” 
But not which one

Reflective means you can’t see in
A pewter pitcher of wild sunflowers
A man so confused about heaven, he said
“You can’t thread a needle with a spy”

One pebble looked like a small brain
And I left it where I found it on the path

It was written on bamboo and then on silk
“Don’t shift the metal still trapped in your head”
Which means: keep your thinking still
Typewriter dents the page and I can’t go back

Twined. Slept. Rimed. Stept. Banisht.
Italics mean earthbound and something knew



Susan Tichy’s third book is Bone Pagoda (Ahsahta Press, 2007). These poems are from her fourth collection, Gallowglass, now in manuscript. Other recent poems have appeared in Agni, Beloit Poetry Journal, CutBank, Denver Quarterly, and Indiana Review. She lives in Colorado and in Virginia, where she teaches at George Mason University. She also serves as poetry editor for the new journal Practice: New Writing + Art.