Suzanne Roberts’ books include Shameless (2007), Nothing to You (2008), and Plotting Temporality (forthcoming from Red Hen Press). Her work has recently appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Poems & Plays, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and South American Explorers. Named the “Next Great Travel Writer” by National Geographic’s Traveler, Suzanne is at work on another book, Almost Somewhere, comprised entirely of travel poems. She is a tenured English instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College, where she runs a successful Writers’ Series. For more information, please visit her website at

Between Midnight and Dawn
San Jose, Costa Rica

The taxi’s horn echoes
through rain—August,
the green season, your winter.
You say, there’s still time.
Shadows drift—window bars,
the yellow burn of streetlamps.

There is no word
in English for this time
between night and day,
madrugada, the gray pre-dawn,
the nearly—mouths sour,
sheets salty from sweat,
from lust. These bones, no borders
beneath the thin skin of hunger.
Synapses still fire the rhythms
of salsa. Madrugada,
when the leaving becomes
part of the other world,
of sleep, of dreams,
when the dawn unties
the earth from sky.
There is no word for this.

I rise from the mattress
on the floor, gather my things,
dress in the dark. You follow me
barefoot into the street,
hand me my bag, kiss
my cheek. Hasta means
I won’t see you again.

* Previously published in 4AM and Nothing to You 
(Pecan Grove Press, 2008)  

The Loneliest Highway
Sand Mountain, Nevada 

Heat rises off stretched charcoal—the ghosts
of lovers broken by yellow lines. The sky
shifts with sienna dunes—a mantra to horizon.

The desert paints the windshield, sun hangs static
over mountains of sand. My head swims with salt,
and lime, tequila and Janis Joplin—a night

out in The Biggest Little City, a sleep full
of margarita dreams—the desert whirled under
a prehistoric sea. The blue butterfly and tortoise

rode rippled waves—I pull to the side
of this lonely highway, a boom of sand echoes
against the canvas of sky. I run toward the sound,

into the belly of the desert. I hurdle Russian thistle,
arms spread across the indigo sky. Look how the desert
strokes my hair. My feet don’t even touch the sand.

*Previously published in Ilya’s Honey and Nothing to You
(Pecan Grove Press, 2008)

Rain in Venice

At the gate of Saint Mark’s Cathedral,
a drowned  pigeon sways in a black puddle,
mottled feathers, once wind-fluttered.

Tourists follow wooden planks across
the drenched square. The city balanced
between green canals, tilting and sinking.

In less than a year, you will have moved
out of the house, filed for divorce,
taken with you this red umbrella.

You turn to me, say, I have never seen
such rain. The flood carries the pigeon,
an eye open, unblinking at the paper-white sky.

* Previously published in Valparaiso Poetry Review

Poet Suzanne Roberts

© 2009 Suzanne Roberts

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