Susan Suntree is a writer, performer, and teacher whose work investigates the dynamics of science, art, and spiritual philosophies as they engage contemporary life. She has presented her poetry and performances nationally and internationally, and has published books of poetry, biography, and translation, as well as essays, reviews, and book chapters. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Theatre Flux which has produced many of her performances and plays. She founded the award winning performance groups FrogWorks, an eco-political street theater troupe, and Earth Water Air Los Angeles, a giant puppet trek across Los Angeles that connected and told the story of endangered open spaces. Her recent one-woman performance and forthcoming book, Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, explores the prehistory and sacred geography of Los Angeles, where she lives. She is currently completing a book of poems, "Grab it, Baby." An environmental activist and a long-time Zen student, she currently teaches at East Los Angeles College.

The following is an excerpt from “Rain River Wetlands”


Ballona Creek softens
                                       spreads open
                          swallowing the sea
And the sea unties the shore
             to take the rivered water.
A delta of yes!
A muddy basket
                               woven of reeds
                        bird wings     beer cans
                        white plastic bags shredded by now
                                    to lace            and the frogs’ gravelly song
slipped through nets slung under the bridges
            where a day’s catch clogs the waterway
                         and the poisonous
                                                   drift of petroleum
            gleams on the surface
                                                  like a grasshopper’s wing.
Settled into the Ballona Valley
                                       a long flat wetlands
breathes its tidal breath
                        from the dry uplands
                                                   deep into the bay’s dark current:
                         fresh water--salt water
                                      fresh water--salt water
                                                   fresh water--salt water.
A Great Blue Heron suns in a Eucalyptus tree
and the small, rare Green Heron
                                         lands and folds its wings
                          in a forgotten slough beside Lincoln Blvd.
where the tide water rolls in
             under the roadway
                                       through a pipe that was never sealed
and spills over a cement wall
                                         to drench the salt bush
                                                                            and the wetland sedges.

The tide-and-creek soaked ground
                                  won’t forsake its nature
and the sea won’t leave it alone,
                                              slowly ruining metal tide-gates
                                                          with its salt scissors.

Fake Love

Come on, fake love!

Your saturated brain waddles like a hedgehog following the shadows.
Why relieve the haunting with more darkness?

Too emotional is not the real Punch and Judy, with its terrible thunder that leaves the fat clouds to squander their wealth.

No no no, come on.
I left when the actual puppets sniffed across the stage because they don’t fake anything.

We need a false brigade because that’s the sympathetic way to go.

Rise up like the next new day. Don’t wait!
Do it now, rise up!
What’s to lose except a little sleep?
Who will complain about a few more hours of daylight when you raise that bright falsie?

Let’er fly and lets see who falls under her spell.
Then what? Then it stays up there like a kite priming love’s path
 until the real thing dawns.

And if it doesn’t, you reel in your twine, smile sheepishly, and duck out of there.

Grab it, Baby

Grab it, Baby, grab this flowering flowing forth and bottle your surrender to it right now and before our very eyes.

I want to see our four hands slide into a wish that leaves out and forever
the word flounder.

Let’s not send in or send out, rescind or recall the rainbow spectrum breaking from a lonely blade of white light.

Let’s not look into this heart of hearts with only our two eyes.

Together we have eight and eight is four and four is the four corners of the universe with the single eye of Ra gazing straight down the middle.

Let’s toss a coin into the glittering fountain, Ra’s eye, and make the only wish that is ever granted, the one and only wish that knits the back to front and side to side, sets the hot to cool and turns the cooled off hot, grips the night and stitches it seamless to the day.

Susan Suntree Moonday poetry reading

© 2007 Susan Suntree

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