Lethal Theater – poems – Susannah Nevison

Lethal Theater
poetry, Susannah Nevison
Mad Creek Books, 2019


From rib to eye, Susannah Nevison’s Lethal Theater, a work imbued with strippage, weighs itself in revisited origins, devoured middles, and in finales released of their previous conclusions. Pain is a prisoner of the open field and ritual a transience that demands a before. This is a trembling but surefooted verse, touched by peace, and Nevison cuts word from the phrase of the stirred body and forms it as a thing a reader may or may not come to name. Is there a surrogate for death? Is there a god whose existence we should take personally? As a high-schooler, I spent a summer helping out at a local veterinary clinic, and there I held dogs as they were put to sleep. It didn’t always take. This collection starts with the line Consider the cell not as you see it / but as it comes to be. In the reading, I felt I’d been…brought. In further, I learned how a language can refuse deliverance, accept arrival, and facilitate release. We cannot know what death does with our waiting, but we can stand by the coeval art in Lethal Theater, and ask for a deeper light beside which we no longer claim spectacle by our watching alone.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here:


person Charles Leggett, two poems

Charles Leggett is a professional actor based in Seattle, WA. His poetry has been published in the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, most recently in 2018 by Twyckenham Notes. His long poem “Premature Tombeau for John Ashbery” was an e-chapbook in the Barnwood Press “Great Find” series.



—After Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Apparition”

All the bells are ringing or have rung.
I heard them ringing in your mother’s voice
The clapper only, still, is punctual.

I thought I sensed the boyhood superhero
Who, cordial and so unaffected, helped
In dreams to banish fear under a close

And brass-hued fog he’s rolling through the years
Along these lanes, the moon-sung valley cows
Regardful, still, between their shudderings.



The azure thins, bleeds to blood
orange   cuddling couple in
silhouette   boundaries blurred
of clouds   a bird drifting down

Allons three cheers for flawless
posture peerless votary
let fall what thee befuddles
what muddles still that starry

heaven’s sprawled rune   horizon
incising your shadow-shawled
waist where would-be hands resign
assignment and surely should

Your lens can only linger
on fingers gelled to gemcan
raining rice on a languor-
ous lion   augur-cocaine

awaited and prayed upon
weighed on the scales (i have scanned
there too friend and found)—it on-
ly can hone what there will wend

Who chafes to change the azi-
muth   who has a hand so strange
range o range us in azure
thinned pure to blood-rust orange

—Puerto Vallarta, 2006


person Ojo Taiye, two poems

Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with the society. His poems and works have appeared in journals like Rattle, Frontier Poetry, Palette, Stinging fly, Notre Dame Review, Vallum, Crannog, Argot, Brittle Paper, Glass Journal, Elsewhere, Eunoia Review, Lit Mag, Juke, Praxis Magazine and elsewhere.


grief as a collection of olives & smoke

what are your favorite flowers?     are they blooming? there is a
sadness so heavy it’s not by sad boys
or for sad boys     please let me die alone     i walk outside & living
  (this is home) & somewhere
there is a book i want to write called   repercussive silence   can we
pretend the memories don’t manifest themselves in every object passed?
    is your time linear? do the dead have purpose for the living?
  i can barely remember your face & your hum       (the lovely songs of
extinct birds)   stumble into me
again & again     like a child discovering the word     BEREAVEMENT
i am tired of writing such a
useless fucking       poem-       (she’s not coming back)
say i’m
the cassette tape whose hair
unwound underwater     you swim through

a dove falls from the sky
i name it mother           & the fifty bodies marching
        through my chest–
a mudslide

(a funeral plot open– cages or tombstones or     the hands from a father)

        the first time i died is when
        i saw my mother crying once– a squeezed cloud
across a border that’s not
a stitch but a wound

where nations part



the first hour in a life
without clocks: name
whatever falls from
the sky as you

you are the song
in a dead language
a broken coast—

after every word
after every ruin
after every shard
of misplaced stars

you didn’t exactly mean
to survive this— tulips severed
spill open like an offering
beyond the marrow of distance

you’ve spent 45 seconds
of your life falling out of
fourth-story buildings
furious at your pulse

you are a city made of rain
with silent doors & locks—
a mouth full of iron & a throat
stuck with stone, swan & sycamore

you waited patiently until you
forgot to breathe—
a plume of ash in orange-
bottled dreams



person Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola, one poem

Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola is a Nigerian poet and teacher of English. His poetry has appeared in Indian Periodicals, Leaves of Ink, Deepwater Literary Journal, Brittle Paper, Yourone phone call, Ric Journal and elsewhere.


My compound as a portraiture

Has no architectural comeliness, or a frame of appeal.

Is survival. Is void of no particular pigment
Pronunciation, save the dullness after cement.
    Is sitting in the ghetto; knows the ghetto; knows all the
Drama: the wisps of smoke from hemps, the intensity of rum’s redolence, the screams from
Girls molested on dead nights,         girls fought over by rogues at a close beer parlor,
    The loud jamz
From the barber’s shop, the idiosyncrasy of the mad man’s cubicle a feet away,
From the neighbor who on public
Holidays makes his Home Theatre scream into our walls
With indifference. With abandon. The woman adjacent my door
Is a scarecrow, she sings early fears in French to the maid she
Exploits; whom sleep has found elusive. Once, my family was smoked out,
Naked by the flames from a broken hookah in the harem
Just behind the window’s blindness.

Knows enough, without so much difference: the claims of incessant flood
    And the Landlord’s rush for rent


person Bob Fern, two poems

Bob Fern is a professor of translational neurobiology whose published short stories include ‘The light at the cat’s spine rocks” in Between the lines press, “Descent of the Capek” in The Ansible and “Pickle-fingered Truffle-snouter” in the Fortnightly Review. Other than that, his publication record to date is purely academic. He lives in Plymouth England with his wife, two good daughters and two bad dogs.


Do it

Sea anemone evert, barb-dangling.
Crystal vase of marbles.
Can love exist without anxiety?
Only through denial, the prerequisite.


The old words

The body may jerk
but the Bundle of His
that rules the heart
has been taken.

Who to hear behind a wall of talk,
who to induct meaning.

Tones on a stave
below what others know