top of page

Suzanne O´Connell



I read a scientific study last week 

that claimed smelling Crayolas

reduced stress by 10%.

Is that 10% per crayon?

If so, I need an emergency box of 52!


The mud around my lifeboat is rising.

The mud smells metallic, like nails.

Why did I take ordinary things

in life for granted?  Nails for example?

I never gave nails their proper respect.


Practical, humble, unattractive, nails.

Nails are a lot like me.

We stayed in the background.

We tried hard,.

But we seldom had the chance

to hold anything important together.





I can’t talk about the bear.

But images of him, big and brown, keep coming.

I picture his innocent eyes, stunned,

as he stepped from behind the trees.


The freight train was nearly two miles long

and full of supplies.

Maybe it was carrying garden furniture,

or pallets of beer from Portland.

Maybe it carried redwood for fancy

home improvements.


The bear carried nothing at all,

just his brown fur,

and perhaps a dream of fall,

the leaves yellowing and crisp,

the sap humming behind the bark.

Maybe he was admiring the midnight sky

and the splash of silver stars.

The leftover harvest moon was shining on him

when he stepped out from the trees.


I can’t talk about the bear anymore.

But I hope he was looking at a falling moonbeam

when it happened.



So the Mister, he says,

“glance in my direction once in a while,

will ya?”


I keep watching my TV show.


So the Mister, he tells me

he dropped the crankshaft

in the old Chevy today.  He says

“couldn’t that have happened

before I polished the damn thing?”


I turn up the volume on the TV.


I can lose myself in my German TV shows.

I imagine walking on the cobbled streets,

stopping at a café to buy something sweet

topped with whipped cream.

They put whipped cream on everything! 

Men there seem to like curvy women,

so I would fit right in.

Everything would be clean and efficient.

Everything would make sense.


So the Mister, he says,

“your gams are like fine art!

Pull up your skirt my liebchen,

so I can see them better.”


I raise my skirt to my knees.


I always know when the Mister wants something.

His voice gets sweet like a linzer torte

and he starts calling me liebchen!






Your magic wands never worked,

whatever the game instructions promised!


Morning comes,

the wind blows.

ocean water flows in.

Dragons stay in their dungeons.


The night is sweet, 

whether you agree with it or not.

Pollen falls, sneezing fits are had by all.

Damsels are not distressed-- 

they eat popcorn and go to sleep.


The gutter captures 

the candy wrappers you threw away. 

The school bell rings in autumn, 

even if you’re not ready.

Is that the bell I hear now?


You never were the dragon slayer!

You sat on a desk chair, not a throne.

All those summer hours of rehearsal, 

pretending to be someone else, 

were a wasted charade,

while the flowers and the sunshine

were captured and held hostage outside.



I am the clock unwinder,

the bell unringer.

I remove the smut from smitten.


I am the clothing shrinker,

the hope dasher.

I remove the de from delight.


I am the corn unpopper,

the soufflé flattener.

I remove the luxe from deluxe.


I am the hair tangler,

the zipper snagger.

I remove the glee from gleeful.


Now, with time running short,

I’m making adjustments.

I’m working to put

the gravitas back into gravlax.





Hamel sings unitones in church.

He wears a unitard, unzipped to the navel

to reveal his hairy chest.


Hamel goes to the Silent Movie Theater

to watch old movies, the ones with the

cowboys wearing tight white pants.


Hamel feeds the gang of swans in the afternoon,

feeds them bits of Bremer Klaben

and Neufchatel cheese.


Hamel sometimes puts his toe in the water.

The swans swim over, thinking it’s

a tidbit of something novel.


Hamel holds still so he can feel

the nibble of the swans on his big toe.

Life is so delicious, Hamel thinks.


Suzanne O’Connell lives in Los Angeles where she is a poet and a clinical social worker.  Her work can be found in Forge, Atlanta Review, Blue Lake Review, G.W. Review, Reed Magazine, Permafrost, Mas Tequila Review, The Round, The Griffin, Sanskrit, Foliate Oak, Talking River, Organs of Vision and Speech Literary Magazine, Willow Review, The Tower Journal, Thin Air Magazine, Fre&d, The Manhattanville Review, poeticdiversity, The Evansville Review, Serving House Journal, Silver Birch Press, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Licking River Review.  She was a recipient of Willow Review’s annual award for 2014 for the poem Purple Summers.  She is a member of Jack Grapes’ L.A. Poets and Writers Collective.  A sample of her work can be viewed at

bottom of page