In December 2020 we held a special online event titled “Self Portrait in a Bathroom Mirror” as part of our Tre Aperitivi fundraiser. Susan Landgraf, Auburn Washington Poet Laureate, submitted the following poem and graciously allowed us to publish it here.

Self-Portrait of My Selves with No Self-Pity


“Be the statue on the dashboard
traveling hopefully.”
Kelli Russell Agodon

To be is not enough.

I want to be groundbreaking,
earth-shaking, stubborn, and visionary
like Muriel Rukeyser

who, after a mini-stroke, sank
slowly to the floor, still reading her poem.

My multiple selves must be about visions
and non-apologetic when we fall
short, bruised and out of breath.

I must believe in all the saints:
the Saint of Strays, Saint Mary, St. Jude,
the Saint of Rats.

Even if we don’t believe in heaven,
We know what hell is like.

We must call out the king
wearing no clothes. Take the hand
of a leper, row flood victims to shore.

We must be the statue on the dashboard.
We must write our own St. Roach poem:

…we say you are filthing out food
But that we know you not at all…
I reach, I touch…

We must burn the coats of deceit.

About the Poet:

Susan Landgraf was awarded a Poets Laureate grant from the Academy of American Poets in 2020. Two Sylvias Press published The Inspired Poet in 2019. More than 400 poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Margie, Nimrod, and others. Other books include What We Bury Changes the Ground and Other Voices. She taught at Highline College and at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She’s Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington.

You can find out more about Susan at Two Sylvias Press

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