Suzanne S. Rancourt


A box is a ceremony
of putting in and taking out to put in again
to cloisonné to into mouth to
out of mouth
like teeth like razor blades
metal edged tucked along the lower jaw line
between cheek and gum to carry
as warnings like the guys at Clinton Correctional
artisans shaving current conditions into forms
each fragment an unforgivable shard
regurgitated regrets
feeding birds

you can be sorry for killing a man
or woman or not
you can even press these syllabic phenomes
into a lacquered moment

the curved abalone lid of this box i pet
my hand remembers
the same curved back of my faithful Bastet
this chest of wonder my two hands hold
does not blink its green eyed mosques
sits atop my breast bone
presses her round feline pads
to my cheeks – lips
this pectoral broach of creature
mosaic of enameled emotions

but it is the box i hold now
my hands purr with caress
inlaid triangles shimmer white and black stars
this box is a mouth of sacredness
entombs the void of red lining
is a ceremony – to have and to hold
my jaguar shadow
spewed quickly
shellacked, sealed fate

How long can I hold dreams in my mouth
before my nervous tongue rolls them and I spit blood?


Suzanne S. Rancourt, Abenaki/Huron descent, is a multi-modal artist with degrees in psychology, and creative writing. Her book, Billboard in the Clouds, Curbstone Press / 2nd print at NU Press, received the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award. Her 2nd, murmurs at the gate, 2019, Unsolicited Press. She is a Veteran. For more info, visit her website:


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