Today in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor C.D. Wright features three poems by Susan Scarlata. About Scarlata’s work Wright says: “Susan Scarlata has taught in Hong Kong, San Francisco and Wyoming. All ages, all sizes. She is the editor of the independent literary press Lost Roads Publishers. Her collection It Might Turn Out We Are Real (Horse Less Press, 2011) is a swallow of what is to come. The poems are curious and curiouser. The language is Sapphic and tech-tracked. Something old, something new. The poems are wittily laced with forewarnings, and ire discharged with due fastidiousness. She reveals the red under the ribs. Were we all so wakefully exposed, we would be obliged to meet our numbered days with more regard. Were we all so wakeful the recognition that “no other planet meets our needs” would have to be heeded.”  


That was the time the deity dressed
in the shepherd’s gray cloak, and we wore
our lion skins and wolf suits.


            And it was all

Arcadia that whole day long.
If the satyrs are still in the hills,
do you think they are standing and dancing?

            Hoof crunk. To find out

offer a wreath of dandelion pollen
put upon the graves of something scared.
And can you procure that dime bag?

            Can you get us that bong

to put in the poem? And tell me
how are your feet about to plead?
The red behind my ribs is crawling

            back toward what it needs.


It was a machine that asked, “Did you really think
you could scan our reverse zones?”
Which told us something (though what


            I am not sure) about pulling

ourselves together. For the well planned mash-up,
the elephant carrying astronauts,
that their spines become the ridge lines.

            Hear it. For the army

of aubergine plants, the bees
being born out of lions. Hear it. That that
one frog keeps throwing up its offspring. Hear it.

            That no one uploads

this moth dust or downloads that bear strut.
Hear it. That we use our intricate moves for
something with succor. Hear it. The poets says, “West,”

            and beyond a white field’s a white sky.

Last Fragment



            can learn

            beyond a white field.


Of Sewers and Sales

Air for sale.




The magic of



Listen, this is how it is. There is
jellyfish thrive, but bees being strangled
and big mammals are hanging out


            at dumpsters.

I am on your machine saying
the micro-chip will release what it holds
only if we cover our

            mirrors, and catch

luminous things on our tongues.
the false prophet is prepared
to offer you a thick-legged cow; a

            barren cow; a black cow;

A cow that brought forth but once;
a cow having two colors; and a white barren cow.
When you see us burn things read the smoke

            as what we want.


Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they’re published.