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 creative nonfiction, as well as translations, essays, reviews, and book chapters. Her performance work has included street theatre, featuring puppets and masks, focused on local environmental issues especially the Ballona Wetlands. In her recent book, Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California (University of Nebraska Press 2010), Suntree draws from Western science and indigenous myths and songs to tell the story of how our region came into being. She also gives lectures and leads tours highlighting the prehistory and sacred geography of Southern California.  Her adaptation as a poem of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights has been set as a choral work by composer Adrienne Albert (The UNDHR: A Choral Quilt of HopeĒ 2010). Her book of poetry, Eye of the Womb (Power Press 1981) was recently published in Madrid as a bilingual edition, El Ojo de la Matriz (Vision Libros 2010). An environmental activist and a long-time Zen student, she teaches at East Los Angeles College.


How can rivers never-mind
Their flat courses for centuries for millennia
Without forethought of canyon?
And carry along whatever falls
Whatever sinks drowns drifts
Uproots despairs or settles
            to the very bottom.

Rivers flow in timeís one direction
Faithful to gravityís dictum
No backtalk, no quarrel

My blood,
    my breath
        my thoughts, though fickle, stubborn,
                     convinced of their own authority,
all carry with the river current.

Why is there one direction and no time-no space?
Why do I splash, flow, flail in this no-thing world?

An earlier version of this poem appeared in Milestone: Voices of East Los and Beyond


Sweetums, Iím gonna trot the collective enunciation, red hot and hungry, right in front of your twinkling nose. You can wonder all you want about what rushed this happy baby into your face, but ainít it clear that the crunchy orange sun, setting like a soda cracker covered in marmalade, had nothiní to do with it. I, myself, had everything to do with it. You never asked me who or why, and now the backdoor is closing on you like the wide flap of a fly swatter. Youíre it, baby wonder, youíre the one and only whose lips take more nibbling than your finger nails. Why is that exactly, you might ask. But I ainít telliní you nothiní cause where I wander the war is over.

From a ms in progress: Grab it, Baby.

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.

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

Letís 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.

Letís toss a coin into the glittering fountain, Raís 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
photo by Anthony Verebes

© 2010 Susan Suntree

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