the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Poems — by Susanna Lang

 

Improvisation

            Bring me all your
            Heart melodies
            —Langston Hughes

Bring me the songs that stretch out like yarn
the cat has played with, songs like snow
ghosting behind commuter trains coming
into the city; bring me the old stories, some

boys changed into flowers and others hung
from the trees; bring me the silver rain, broken
machines, lost keys, dead dogs, ice on the road;
the moment when streetlamps light in the evening

and the moment when they become invisible.
Bring me the arguments about who knows what
and the ones where everyone knows; bring
your intimacy with rivers, your trumpet, honey

mixed with liquid fire; bring your arm upraised
to grasp justice like a brass ring while music turns
the carrousel. Bring me chords that open a box of silence
and the ones that reach into the jazzy city night.

 

 

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

We’re all growing old together in this bar
that’s been on the corner of Lawrence
and Broadway since before Prohibition, green
neon sign with some of the lights burnt out,
photo of Al Capone on the piano, rumors of tunnels
beneath the varnished bar. The man playing
the Hammond B wears one of those fisherman’s caps
that jazzmen used to wear and the pianist sings
the truths we won’t accept without a beat
and a whisky on the rocks, Brand new music,
same old song
. We’ve heard it all before—you, me,
the bartender with his skinny ponytail and a towel
tucked into his belt. On the way home, a raccoon stops us dead
in the alley, his reflector eyes seeing clear through us.

 

~  ~  ~
LangSusanna Lang’s most recent collection of poems, Tracing the Lines, was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press. Her first collection, Even Now, was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press, and a chapbook, Two by Two, was released in October 2011 from Finishing Line Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Green Mountains Review, The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, and Jubilat. Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.