Mastodon Notes from a Woman Soon to Be Divorced, a poem by Su Byron

Notes from a Woman Soon to Be Divorced


Endless South

I woke up and saw that it was winter. There were no birds, etc. Every piece of clothing inside my house was clean. Thank God. I looked into the mirror and saw that my eye was bright and black. Piercing. Wonderful. My lips were almost open. Beautiful. But my hands. Hands? Were very sad. Beating something. Like birds flown into their endless south and still trying to fly farther. Ridiculous. I noticed my heart seemed to be saying something. There is no winter. Am I awake? What was it saying? There were words on its lips. Entangled with the soap in my hand. Soap? I was trying to clean my wings. They were brown and bitter. I was old. It was winter. Try to overcome that. Pretend it is summer! The tulips, etc. Brown and bitter, my wings that I tried to clean. With white soap while my heart said something and I listened and heard nothing.

There Is No Waking While Things Like This Are Happening

They try to get the zebras to talk. That makes sense when you live out in the jungle. Because already the lions speak and the great giraffe sings, apparently. This is told to me by those who have struggled with wild things. Great warriors with pain splashed on their faces. One leans down over my body. (I have just been ripped apart by a lion.) Do you hear them speaking he says in another language. I hear them. It is song or something like words pasted together. Like a tight thing you would hold and never want to let go of. I notice my hand lying by the river. How beautiful! Try to wake up. Try! But the wild wind and the zebras and the warriors are singing. Their noise carries me up. There is no waking while things like this are happening.

Remember When We Loved Each Other?

To say I loved you would be like saying I need you to pick this sunflower

Or I wish you would please now come home to me even though it has been three years

To say that I am kind of dying here and getting old

Would be like saying


What in hell happened to my face?

Remember when we loved each other?

Down by the water, etc. At any rate, let’s turn the page

At this point the only thing left to talk about would be

How empty this cup is. This one I was drinking from.

These Were the Things I Was Trying to Say

I would not beg you but if I begged you would it make you come home?

Because I could get down on both knees.

There Is No Hell so Let’s Talk About Something Else

My hands still look like the map of a child’s planet

Thank god

Your hands are like a cow who has stopped moving in the field

Who has cried real tears

Who has cried real tears?

Our dead boy we folded in his suit

The policeman we handed over dollars to

The nun we gave real cake to chew

And to the strange waves we rode

We gave our drowning heads and hearts

That is to say, we drowned

There is no hell so let’s talk about something else

The fields of people wandering


You Are My Very Own Truck That I Will Drive One Day into a Wall

In bed he asks me to spread my legs. His mouth open in an old man’s pant. Belly touches mine but there is no jolt. I am thankfully drunk. Took codeine, too. He comes on my chest after he asks first. He has to ask! Later, I imagine a warrior coming from a northern country. Big arms slap me down. With his hand around my neck I pant. My brown eyes turn blue. This man pushes the truth out of me.

When he goes, I dream of someone else. My dog looks at me. I look back at him. It is true love.

Another Love Song

I thought his cock was bigger. It isn’t. I must have been drunker last time. Now I take another swig and watch the clock. When he goes I will go out on the terrace and watch the waves turn into giant pirate ships. The pirates will wink up at me. I will wink back down at them. The biggest will spread his arms as if to invite me on board. I can see way down into the boat where a long wooden table is set with jugs of wine and whole birds being torn apart by men with open mouths.

I will go. I will go!

Love Song #34

From the moment we lie down together in bed to the moment when he asks if he can come on my breast, four minutes have passed. Why do I keep doing this?

Love Song #287

His car is broken down and he needs me to come get him. His chest hurts. His thumb hurts. He has a cold. He is coughing. He is worried. He is sad. He is angry. Ho hum. I am waiting for my boat now. Did not tell him about the ticket. Will take it to a sunny place where men wear ripped shirts and will rip me apart.

Love Song #965

Let me be your slave I told him. He pretended to understand but never brought it up again. Servant to king, I begged him. He talked about my tires. They needed to change. Tie me down, I pleaded. He asked for another cookie.

In the book I am going to buy at the store there will be a picture of a mighty king. All dolled up in royal garb. Long, thick legs waiting beneath all that velvet. He will demand that I crawl, inch my way up his thick fabric. Touch the purple, make him shiver. He may have to strike me down if I don’t comply.

This king will never meet my boyfriend. I will keep them separate. The boyfriend is the one who will change my tires. The king will make me change his.



You force me to put my head underwater. I like that.

Tigers are not scared of us. You do not understand that.

We drive with your hands in shock.

Families pass by. Fever burns their cars apart.

God waves. A grocery store door hangs open. Your mouth is too dry.

The door opens. Not the door to your heart.

Heat Like an Ape Makes Itself Known in the Wee Hours of My Morning

There is no male around.

Only a sour memory of you leaning over me.

The neighbors were watching.

Your huge body.

My panting heart.

The way the dogs waited for the ending.

We each did our part.

Your pants wet in the car

As I leaned over the dashboard

North Carolina, South Carolina

The seas parted

You threw me on the engine hood

My small ass a light to passing cars

There is no male around

So I knit

Deep knots



Wind instead of blood. In my heart gnaws a little mouth with tiny words that turn bigger as the day grows blacker. Stupid tongue. Waiting for a boat. Its very own train to its very own velvet corridor. Tonight my father is dying. I will not act differently. I will not kill myself. I will not laugh. I will not eat too much or too little. Or banish young mothers from my sight or kill my dog or beg my neighbor to take me to the hospital or give a blow job to my new boyfriend. Will there be a funeral? I’m not up for it.


My father has not died yet but I am here remembering a great fever I once had. Wet rags turned to flames on my head. How I languished! There was a desert to die in back then. Poems not yet written. But the thing is . . . I thought they would be written. And so I came back to life. Great, grand life. Beady eyes always wanting to get cool. Some ice for my swollen throat. I am just sitting here waiting for them to call and tell me that my father has died. Then what? Then I will die. And all my brothers die. And you will die, too.



There is no time. My father did not die. His teeth are rotting and he drinks some coconut juice. His wife, from Puerto Rico, tells me about his body. It will be taken away by medical students. There will be no coffin or funeral. I should nod but I am thinking about trying to get into the bathroom so that I can take another drink from my bottle. The man I had to sleep with in order to even get here to visit my father is looking down at the rug. I spent $200 on a hotel last night. We made love four times. At one point he kneeled down on the wooden floor to wipe up candle wax I had spilled. His balls hung low from his 56-year-old loins. I shuddered. Age slams me into the wall over and over. The next morning there was nothing for me to eat at the breakfast table.


The 56-year-old man has a stomachache. His tiny penis hangs down as he grabs his stomach and vomits. Or tries to vomit. Huge sounds from the bathroom. I make ginger tea in the kitchen and wish he were dead. How long will I have to wait to get back to my 26-year-old lover whom I knew 30 years ago? He was tall and his shoes were like boats. His young face will bury me.

Too Cold

How can I tell him that his 32-inch waist of which he is so proud disgusts me. Disgusts me! Fancy little girl primping. Bad breath. I need a big man with a bear’s skin! Whose cave is littered with the bones of children! How can I tell this tiny man who loves me that I am sick to death of eating at the cheap pizza place? His little hand takes his little knife and cuts an onion in his salad. The waitress goes by with pins stuck in her nose. She smiles black teeth. A smirk? I am going to die! More wine. By my third, I am hurling rocks from my castle. His head bows under their hard weight. I can’t help it! How I wish he would take me to the edge of the highway and abandon me. Just let me be!


Old Story

Expect big things in your heart

I yelled at you


Stamp, stamp, stamp

The sound of my feet

Blue river

There is water and it is not stopping

Your hat is hanging from the branch

Your shoe has been eaten by the wolf

Bears turn nervously

One eye straight ahead

Do not look back

Their claws are something, aren’t they?

Blue Hat in a Box

All through the years I thought of you. Through all of the wars. Through all of the brand-new washing machines and all of the old ones carried away by sad-faced men. They had hard times fitting these washing machines through my doors. Sweat poured off of them. Some of them sobbed. One asked me to phone his wife and tell her that he might never make it home. Because of this washing machine, I said? Others threw themselves at my feet and begged me to take a gun and shoot them. I would not. I stepped over them instead thinking all the time of you. Always of you.


Kick-up-your-heels opera

There was a storm

Now it is over


The table is set for one

One word

Forgive me


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