Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Poetry by Susanna Lang from Tracing the Lines



              What has kept the world safe…[has]been memory.

                                           -—John Hersey

But we forget, don’t we?

Not what happened, but the thickness of it.

The rough edges of the table

on the café terrace, moisture

beading on your glass.  The way the woman

who would become your wife

kept pushing her hair off her forehead.

The sound of a cicada spinning to its death on the sidewalk,

a papery sound, like someone thumbing through a book.

Think of the man who returns

a year after the five-day war

in which his house was burned.

What’s left of it

still stands on the corner, so he can search

among the black and crumbled stones,

the splintered table legs, for the photo

he didn’t expect to find—

photo of a woman, her hair swept back

in a style no one wears anymore.  He’d forgotten

that she used to wear her hair that way,

as he’s forgotten the stretched feel of his skin

in the heat of the flames he watched from across the street,

though he’d tell you that’s the one thing

he would remember forever.


Night Letters

              I cannot tell if the day
              is ending, or the world, or if
              the secret of secrets is inside me again.

                             —Anna Akhmatova

Written on the undersides of leaves, along their veins;

written on the thin sheet of water laid over stones in the creek;

laid down with the saxophone track on the album

Sonny named for those telegrams with the special

night rate, 50 words for the price of 10—

the news you waited all night to read, or the news

you dreaded each time you answered the door.

Written on the back of an envelope returned as undeliverable

and then folded and forgotten in a pocket, sent to the wash.

Nailed to the door, for you to find in the morning,

when you finally understand what woke you in the night

and what could come pounding at your door another night.

What he wrote in response, what she revised and copied herself,

what someone left in the mailboxes of those who would know

what to do with it, who would know to recopy what had been written

and pass it on, mailbox to mailbox through an unbroken series of nights:

I’ve written down the words that I’ve not dared to speak.

Left as a clue to the location of what was buried

decades ago, so that someone else can brush the light crumbly soil

from these bones, reconstructing what happened at the very end,

what was nearly disappeared.


Dead Letters

              …cries like dead letters sent

              to dearest him that lives alas! away.

                             —Gerard Manley Hopkins

Marked Recipient Unknown

the numbers reversed, or if the numbers were correct

the street was wrong, someone wrote West instead of North. 

Sent to an address misheard, misunderstood,

impossible to imagine from the other side of the globe—

Sterite or Stiejt instead of Street.

Addressed but not delivered, not deliverable,

sent to the Dead Letter Office to be destroyed

after any items of value had been removed from the envelope,

the paper (smudged, edges crinkled, saturated with ink

and with the words someone had rehearsed

for days before committing to them) sold for scrap.

Addressed in a dead language, a language no one speaks anymore,

though a few remember hearing it spoken when they were young:

Apalachee, Galice dialect, Miami-Illinois, Nooksack,

or the Aka-Bo known only by an old woman in India

who died this year, who survived the tsunami in 2004

because she understood when the earth spoke to her

and so knew to climb a tree high above the floods.

Mailed to a son gone silent, his exact location unknown:

The lost are like this.

His last place of employment written carefully

on the outside of the envelope.

That letter did arrive at Number 4 Barrington Street

and the prodigal son wrote back to his mother,

a resurrection chronicled, with a great deal of satisfaction,

at the Dead and Revived Letter Office.


Tracing the Lines

There are lines you can trace like rivers in a geography,

those faint blue lines that wander back and forth across borders,

Dnister, “the close river,” and Dnieper, “the river on the far side,”

rising in one country and draining in another.  The line

of my son’s jaw, so much like his uncle’s jaw, or his great grandfather

who died while my mother was still a child, who rarely enters her stories

but sits squarely before the camera in his wedding photo,

his wife’s hand resting on his shoulder, his jaw lifted in pride. 

They left their river, a story told too often, to escape the soldiers—

not what you would expect to read in my son’s English

Dissenter blue eyes, legacy of another set of ancestors, another

line on the map.  We do not come from mud, a caption

beneath the photo of a family bringing the long dead

out from their crypts, narrow bundles tied with strips of cloth,

raised up so they can dance and offer advice and join

in the feast before they are wrapped in new cloths

and returned:  we come from these bodies.  My son

comes from these bodies, dressed in their most formal clothes

for the photo, the embroidered bodice, the starched collar, the tie

with a sheen to it, the string of pearls.  Their lips are closed,

their eyes focused on the camera with its slow shutter,

but in a moment the photographer will turn away, and these bodies

will be ready to dance, they will have something to say.


Swallows in Normandy

My son says, I’m waiting for the bread to rise.

He’s still asleep, never baked a loaf of bread.

When I open his shutters, the swallows

fly in and out of the stones around his window.

They sit on the wires and sing, their rosy throats

throbbing, tails marking the rhythm.

Yesterday at Omaha Beach, he climbed into the German bunker

and the swallows flew in after him, flew out before him.

I’m waiting, he says,

I don’t know what I’m waiting for.


Daylight Saving Time

Yesterday the field stretched away from the road,

empty except for the broken stalks of last year’s crop.

Today it is filled with arrivals and departures.

For now, the light stays later, but so does the dark.

Yesterday the tree was silent; today it sings.

High in the branches, an abandoned wasp nest peels back its layers.

A car pulls up to the stoplight, corner of Randall and Big Timber Road.

On its bumper: Lithuania in NATO. 

In six years, the driver has not seen another issue

worth the effort to clean his bumper and replace the sticker.

He remembers late winter lingering in that other place,

the same dry stalks, the same blur of wings;

but the farmhouse was of stone, the barn still in use.

When the light changes, the line of traffic moves forward

and the geese stir and rise, stir and rise.

This may not be the right field.

It may not be the right time.