What Rough Beast | Poem for February 18, 2017

Susan Wolff

Why have we believed in gods, he wonders, sitting on the bench at the bus stop for a rest, smoking a cigarette. The 204 rumbles past in the dirty winter street, not seeing him, the driver intent on making up time. The old lady is told to get up to make room for the wheelchair at the next stop. “Fucking wheelchair”, she mutters as she stumbles across the aisle. By the time the lady cripple parks in the space she is dead from the old woman’s curses and ascends into the sky to direct traffic. She turns herself red but the traffic races past. The old man with the cigarette also gives up the ghost at that moment, joining her and they fall in love, their dying hearts burning brightly in the winter mist, stopping the cars. The wrinkles on his skin vanish under her kisses and the morning grows bright. The old lady, who’d aimed so well, watches them overhead, cursing once more but it misses the ascending lovers in their ecstasy, their red love confusing traffic on the way down Kingston Road.


Susan Wolff is a Canadian who has been writing poems for over forty years in between living and working in Nigeria, the US, Egypt, Peru, and Germany, finally returning to Toronto in 1994. For two years at ages twelve to fourteen she also lived in Kashmir. Her work has appeared in journals but to date, no book. Is it laziness, too much work or other reasons? She of course chooses option three.

SUBMIT to What Rough Beast via our SUBMITTABLE site.

If you want to support the mission and work of Indolent Books, consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Indolent Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity.