By Susan Cossette

Tournée du Chat Noir

It is a suitable night for lost souls.
The Swiss Guard, clad head to toe in gold
Lead poets and painters into the smoky fold,
Of those who fear water, and drink only wine
The sociopolitical, the atheistic, we hedonists—
Barring infamous priests and the military
From this salon of incoherent arts.
The absinthe flows.

Wandering in from the dirty rain.

Shadow plays dance on dusky walls,
Beneath Byzantine iron gaslights—
Shadow flesh curls into its own peculiar heat,
While sleek black cats hiss in the mist
Under the skull of Louis the XIII as a child,
Presiding from his marble mantle to chide
The Prince of Wales, who arrived late.

Finding ourselves in the dark abandon.

The world we choose,
Fixed in these two rooms.
The life we choose,
Awaits beyond the tin piano,
The cabaret songs and the ghost of Rodolphe Salis.

We leave but shall always return,
To our home, our tribe.

Ionic Bonds

What is the difference
Between dissolving,
And melting?

Melting, pure-component equilibrium
Between the solid and liquid phases
Of the same component.

The grey Gods hold me, inverted—
Powerless, around my slim ankles.
Dangling over the flame,
You are to blame.

Dissolution involves a solid and a solvent,
Different chemical compounds.
Mutually incompatible when they mix.
Little sugar crystal babydoll,
Dove into the water and did not swim.

Dissolving isn’t something you do.
It’s something that happens to you—
Or choose, when you shake off the grey robe of duty.
Hurling the heavy cloak,
Sliding down the silver spoon
Into the warm salt ocean to dance.
Free and bare, a newborn atomic child.
The covalent bonds,
Seek warm electron bonding pairs.

It is not a phase change,
When my pale particles vanish—
The essence of me remains.

Chemical change
My name is the same.

Flamenco Surrealismo

The blue flame dims.
This moment hinges on strangers’ applause
While you spin on the dingy stage
A gush of lush scarlet skirts,
Tattered fans and cracked castinets.

The crowd pushes in.
You forget the steps to dance,
Face a mass of faceless shadows.

Oh pedicured toes, do not fail.
Oh wide eyes, do not stare at the light,

Go to the fire, the fire
Cante, toque, baile.

Your eyes have seen the unmentionable.
               Your feet, memorized the path.

Rush to the fire, the flame
Jaleo, palmas, pitos.

Sing, play, pick, dance, clap, snap
Like no one is watching.

The blue flame wanes.
Smoke lingers in the light,
Specs of dust suspended in this moment.

Gaze at the empty hall
Suddenly feel very small,
Barefoot, hair in damp tendrils.

You did not fail.
               Your hallucinations make you giggle.


“The present is theirs.  The future, for which I really worked, is mine.”
-Nicola Tesla

Is what I imagined tangible or not—
This motor, harnessed by June bugs,
Streamer arc threads of phosphorescent light
Shoot from the center coil.

I go from the idea to the reality,
A star among the stars.
I do not think there is any thrill
Like the inventor seeing an invention come to success,
The exhilarating sense of the future.

But sometimes we feel so lonely.
Someday, we will know who we really are.

If my current can travel distances,
My work is immortal—
Resurrects my vision,
And broadcasts to Mars.

Thought is electrical energy.
Why can’t we photograph it?
The primary circuits of us all,
High-speed alternators—
Many colors, and frequencies.

But sometimes we feel so lonely.
Someday, we will know who we really are.

My tower dream ran out of funds—
Demolished to scrap,
The property sold to the highest bidder.

I live on credit at the Waldorf,
Along with spark-excited ghosts.
My only friends are pigeons in Bryant Park—
My favorite is a female.
As long as she lives,
There is light in my life.

But sometimes we feel so lonely.
Someday, we will know who we really are.

Dancing with my Mutant Genes and the Voodoo Priestess

This baseball bat,
It crashed a hole in the glass wall—
Smashed the plaster,
I surprised myself.

It is the truth you don’t want—
When I finally crawl
Out through the shatters and splinters,
Onto the steep and thorny path.

I am a curious specimen,
Pinned and stuck, fruit fly on a glass slide.
I have been called crazy, or otherwise.

The guilty chromosome shows
Itself, peeking from the protein threads
A stranger among the ordered helix,
Revealing herself, at last.

I am what makes you yourself.
I wish I could tell you it will be easy.
It won’t.

The weird birthmark I tried to hide—
To wash away with pink soap bubbles,
Cover with cosmetics.

She is my talisman, my voodoo priestess
I hand her yarn, and a candle,
We chant and dance,
Spin wild in ecstasy, then she tells me—

Climb out.
You’ve been asleep too long.
Voodoo princess, curious genome, wide-eyed strange child . . .
Pack the past and curl it in thread,
Tuck it under your pink pillow.
Chant and dance.
And burn it,
Burn it.

susan cossette

About the Author:

Susan Cossette earned her B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she was a two-time recipient of the Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize.  She is the author of Peggy Sue Messed Up . . . and other poems.  More of her work may be found on her website: