after the surrealist, Hans Bellmer

He cross-dresses to merge
with his creations,
a language that savors

desire’s aggressive fingers,
hangs a doll from a tree,
dumps a doll on stairs,

arranges a meat-rack doll
from his real-life lover’s form.
Experimental poetry,

he names it:
wood, flax, and plaster.
He adds nuts and rods,

molds mask-like faces
to build life-sized monster dolls
with breasts, genitals.

Oscar Kokoschka’s obsession,
lurid murders,
and the cold shadow

of his fascist father’s harshness
inspire him.
Each imperfect body

is an abused,
dismembered mannequin,
fleshy love object

with articulated ball joints.
Like his doll in white socks,
black patent Mary Janes,

each temptress
an artificial girl,
a shattered fetish.


doesn’t trip
over his words.
I did, swept

into his pillow talk,
his double talk,
walking wobbly

in stilettos.
Stay away from him,
is good advice.

A sweet-talking guy
has enough slide
in his voice to sound

like he’ll deliver dreams.
Lied my jeans off.
I didn’t think

this was where I was going,
but, without a map,
it’s where I got.

A sweet-talking guy
didn’t make me
cry; I did that

all by myself,
slicking my mascara

like I was born a fool,
or schooled
to become one.


We were supposed to be in Spain now,
but that’s not said as a complaint.
It’s just that I miss waiting on the free-

admission line nightly at the Prado to stare
at The Extraction of the Stone of Madness
by Bosch. In the painting, a man

leans back as another in a funnel
hat pulls a flower bulb from a hole
cut in the sick man’s skull. Does Lubbert

in the calligraphy border really refer to
a castrated dachshund, as one critic wrote?
Is the surgeon in the painting a charlatan?

These new days of crazy, who isn’t
a charlatan? Stones were once thought
to make one ill or stupid, if they lodged

in the body. Now it’s the news
that’s like a stone, numbing the brain
so that numbers barely mean people,

and crowds amass to demonstrate for
the freedom to risk illness and Covid death,
or, at least, to have others die for them.

I wish I were in Madrid—the one
that existed before anyone became sick
of this—sharing a pitcher of sangria,

pontificating about art. The madness
of the art world: now that was a folly
worth a non-trepanned stone in the brain.


Water deity in the form
of a shark: where is your gold,
your snake, your long black hair?

While I snorkel, looking
for parrotfish iridescence,
you track me. Do you wonder
if I’m worth troubling?

Yesterday, I swam with sea lion pups
in the rocky shallows where
they could avoid you; a baby,
curious, got close and I stroked
its fat belly.

As I grey, I crave what you take
for granted—ocean waves,
the taste of blood and flesh,
enough of life’s vibrations
to dance myself into a trance.

If you really are a disguised goddess,
shape-shift. Abduct me
and increase my luck.

I might grow extra rows of teeth.
I could be prettier, wealthier. I could
rise like a tornado.

SUSANA H. CASE is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train in 2020 from Broadstone Books. Drugstore Blue (Five Oaks Press) won an IPPY Award in 2019. She is also the author of five chapbooks, two of which won poetry prizes. Her first collection, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. Poems by Case have appeared in Calyx, Catamaran, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Potomac Review, Rattle, RHINO and many other journals. Case is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.