Men in the Susquehanna


Below the overpass, a dozen men

are staggered like a mean bowling split

across the shining flats. How can these men

be here on a Wednesday morning, fishing for trout?

Perhaps they’ve taken the day off from work.

Perhaps they don’t have work.  They gritted their teeth

all winter long, but now they take up hope

of plenty, fresh fillets on the grill or fried

in popping bacon grease, a freezer full

enough to last ’til spring turkey season.


Better to think of it as a holiday,

the men luxurious in new waders,

expensive flies and reels.  They must hold rods;

driving past, I only see their trunks

dark and surely cold in April water

that gleams like foil, these men who stand so still,

waiting, terrified, to feel the catch

of some great, unbearable hook.






The kitten curled at the sunny windowsill,

fox in the back row, deer beside the door—

my fuzzy students are all accounted for

in knitted caps, masks of eye, nostril,

and whisker, pink in tuft and smile.  They will

not let themselves slip into fierceness, to roar. 

A woman’s life is terrifying: therefore

these girls come dressed as owls, pandas, gerbils.


It’s safer to be a toy, a stuffed doll

arranged like those on their narrow dorm beds.

They clip fluffy tails to backpacks, peer

at their shoes, their smeary notes.  They try to recall

that cozy den.  If only this teacher, this blockhead,

would cease her droning into their furry ears.



About the Author

Juliana’s second poetry collection, Roleplay, won the 2010 Orphic Prize and was published in 2012 by Dream Horse Press. Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve won the 2013 Winged City Chapbook Prize and was published last year. Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Yellow Chair Review, ONE, The Journal, and elsewhere. An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and teaches at Alfred University.