Sleep descends over this house

And leaves a blush

Of bruised fruit and eyeshadow,

A rich hidden flavor 

Haunting the mirrors, and

Tinting the dreams of those who remain.

This house is vast

And many-winged as a meaningless hotel

Whose numbers ascend 

Like a flock of crows.

I wear silk socks 

That make my hair stand on end as I pace

And tread the threadbare carpet

With its maps and rivers

Of unnamed stains

And I want to tell the stories 

Of each unnumbered room 

And to pocket the people within 

Like paintings.

To harvest in darkness

The spinning wheels that thread their minds 

And turns air lavender,

A shade unmade in nature.



Bike riding, a small simple pleasure
Like a cherry drop placed in the palm of a child.
My bike has carved tracks
In two continents conjoined,
The sisters north and south.
One white-haired with ice, cap of geese
I smudge into smoke with my thumb.
The other, gown embroidered into rivers,
A pattern of vines and glass-eyed constrictors.
From a bike there is poetry on each dusted road,
You’ve seen it too, the way it transforms.
All day under sun that poisons our blood
We ride side by side, with hair and legs that blur
Like lit candles held too close together.



She wore a pantsuit for her second wedding,

And her father who spoke only of the church

In the voice of a child

Did not deny her the music of a mountaintop

For this new marriage,

With its promise of cleansing, of rebirth,

Of looking down 

From an ancient expanse 

Upon the thing that makes you you

And descending then,

As the falcon advances down,


If nothing is instinct let it be this,

The bird on its ledge of the Brooklyn Bridge

Making itself

Nothing more than the knife.


Holding a Crater in Her Hand


The day the sky fell 

She was watering radishes 

On a long lawn that was not her own.

First she heard the rabbits,

The rush of them,

Stirring from belowground, 

Thumping hind legs like a growing storm.

Then they rose and swept past her 

And the ground crawled.

She would be late for tea

And her gown stained

With the brush of their bodies.

After that she felt the fruit trees shudder.

She had watered each since birth,

Had stroked their names

Against her skin.

Now escorting each on its passage

To some otherside slippery and inaccessible. 

She became a key that day,

Watching the sky 

Open greedily to her, in great strips

Like bruises rendered in watercolor.



Outer Establishment 


Alice is a summer 

Old in her body, weaving trees.

She sees the space where her mind 

Parts like a newborn mountain 

Growing vines of the motorcycle man 

Who bears her up highways

And down these dark valleys

Bleak with snow and salt

And the bodies of black-eyed badgers

Left to dry in a wind.

Alice can wait for years and years and still

Not be seen, the candles of her

Trail behind, she grasps the wheel 

From him and rides 

Far inside the safe sealed future

She will build of herself

Out of threads and twigs and 

Shed silk skins.

Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Bluepper, Collidescope, and Chronogram, among others. Her work is forthcoming in Ligeia Magazine, Green Silk Journal, The Oddville Press, and Schuylkill Valley Journal.    

Five poems by Shannon Cuthbert