Posts Tagged ‘biographical’

Graphic Art by Susan Joyner-Stumpf

(aka sonnetwolf designz)



Born at the time

Of moon when all is yearning:

At the moment of equinox,

A primeval tap into deep deprival

Of stillborn longing.

Love and grief:  i ache the same.

A torture ignited

By the celestial sigh

Of tearful smile

And laughter unwept.

I am the mistress of sorrow:

Flesh to flesh, i don’t bond so easily.

Intimacy paves the path towards

Infinite loss.

I am approachable in dreams

Wavering between the thrust

Of dawn with twilight ~

(when most loneliness happens),

Where the fire of passion is sinister

Because it’s the spirit that reeks surrender

And ultimate seduction.

Born at the time

Of moon when all is yearning:

I was that shooting star you held in

Your stain-glassed eyes ~

yet you blinked,

never to see me fall.


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf




I should be used to burying

People, I thought to myself.

And now, at my father’s service,

Grief reminded me without fail

That I had outlived them

All, my entire family.

Survivor’s guilt is

Alive and well.

Mother and brother and now

Father, ashes to the nonchalant wind

And now even laughing stars

forget their Mortal names.

During the Eulogy I didn’t

Even remember speaking,

And after everyone had

Already been settled in their


That’s when she slipped in,

Stayed hunched in the back row,

dressed in black finery and

adorned with a vintage

Hat of netted lace veil

Hiding her mysterious face.

She left before I could reach her,

Before the service was

Finished and after I’d already


Others prodded, who was she?

I didn’t know.

They joked, she must have been

Your father’s concubine, who

          Else could she be?

I didn’t see the humor until

I realized no one was laughing.

My husband and I were last

To leave with Pastor Paul,

Laden with flowers and cards.

We finally made

It to our car.

Rain started.

I looked back at the brick façade

Of the Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home

Knowing I’d never see it again,

Carrying what little remained

Of father in my hands, then

placing it gently on the backseat.

That life,

That anger, torment,

Successes and failures,

Ice words and

smoldering fires of passion

He left behind for us to


It’s the secrets

He took with him,

Remnants perhaps

Sealed in this porcelain vase,

Or in that dark pool of sky,

Trapped somewhere in

An ebony coiffed bonnet

Of some stranger that whisked in like

A terrible, but small hurricane to pay

Respects to someone she


I feel a draft as like a door, left ajar

Where you can’t see in from standing

Outside as hard as you try to

Peer in.

Oh Winter, so on this sweltering

New Orleans July  Saturday,

You have arrived early!


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf



(for a pet)


our eyes locked

as the vet sunk the

needle into her little soul.    


can you forgive me?

I pleaded far beyond

where tears are allowed to go;

a place inside broken stars

and where mountains

crumble steep when we’re not looking.


I think as I looked up towards

those painful fluorescent lights on

the ceiling, further away into

an unknown abyss

than even she,


I asked of God:

  why my

cat, why now?


the gentle nudge of an ethereal

answer stroked across my sorrow

like a soothing feather,

speaking to my sinking heart:


because I need her.


as I walked away, I heard

the vet’s small voice trailing

the distance

between us…do you want to take her home?


some familiar sound spilled from me

giving him a faint, almost inaudible

yes, but it

sounded more like an echo wherever

they go when they are shattered.


I didn’t even remember words

dropping like dying butterflies

from my frozen lips…


what was left of my

existence came crashing down

all around me once I stepped outside

into winter’s cold, unforgiveable embrace


and into the alien world of a

cruel and cat-less dawn.



© Susan Joyner-Stumpf




The other horses gathered

Around her, as she closed her

Eyes forever……….

Oh God did she hear

The thunder as you called

Her hooves trailing like stardust

Raining down in my eyes

With unspeakable

Glitters of tears

Oh, did she ever look back at me

Galloping as she did



To  your precious pasture

In the sky?


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf



Indignant death you suffered

across the bleeding grass

of my front pasture

my husband who dug his

shovel deep in your abdomen

possibly a broken spine

four spindly legs

reaching hooked claws

twisting upwards spasmodically

towards a tortured sky.


What did you do so wrong?


It spooked the mares my husband choked

an animal lover himself

forced to choose

compelled to protect one thing

while harming another.


It didn’t make it any easier

to know you might have babies

anticipating your return with

food for their starving bellies . . .


perhaps you were somebody’s mate

as he waits for you back at the den

never to see you again.


Even you knew

(as most wild things do)

survival is harsh

each moment endured

like it was your last

what will you succumb to first

the elements or a predator?

But you lived to the fullest

fought till the very end

and it didn’t make it any easier

my friend.


Sure you expected to die

but not like this

not today

the sun was shining

the snow was melting

you’re young

this sounds familiar

believe it or not

even to humans.


Was there ever a chance

you wouldn’t have gone in vain?


There was always the

wheels of a careless John-Deere

or the screech of a Semi

that couldn’t swerve.


And now it comes down

to this

so seemingly innocent

you were in the wrong place

at the wrong damn time

and it just so happened to

be ours.


I must ask myself,

the Universe, is

there ever, for anything,

a convenient time to

die or be killed?

We all know the answer.


Whatever the reason,

I begged my husband

to bury you where he

found you


not leave you there for

the buzzards to pick

your untimely bones.


That’s the last thing

I said that day to the

man I married

as I shuffled away, slumped,

in my bedroom slippers

back turned

no one to hear the tears.


Whether you flirted

with progress or disaster,


does it really matter,


nobody wins.



© Susan Joyner-Stumpf


In the Nursing home,

my father seemed so small,

not the towering burly figure

I remembered as a child,

the whiplash of his tongue

tall as Aspen Pines;

the crest of his anger

rising and falling

like the Man in the Moon.

Now he peered out from

behind glazed over eyes

barely recognizable except for their

surrendered blue

which was hard to accept.

Just five more years,” he said to me.

“All I want is to live five more years.”

He was 85.

I think three weeks passed when he

stated this.  Then the

dreaded pneumonia, which seems to

rob the elderly most


well it found, and claimed,

him too.

One rough night of painful

breathing and never saw

the dawn of his 86th light.

He had never asked for much,

except, perhaps, that I be perfect,

which of course I wasn’t.

And if he came back alive today,

he surely

would have said,

that’s what killed him.

But despite the relationship

we never had,

the embrace that would never come,

the shadow of his voice,

(which is all an echo is),

won’t leave me.

The memory of his one

little wish

never leaves me.

Are we all to end up an

echo inside someone’s head?

Five more years…

                             Just …five…more…years


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf

My Mother’s Piano

I bought my mother

a piano once.

Long ago, she had played

as a young girl growing

up inBaltimore.

I wanted to recapture that

and in her eyes, I think

I did when she stepped

into the living room

and I released the blindfold

for her to see.  She fell into

me and said, “it’s the

best gift I’ve ever received.”

She played, privately at first,

when no other family

member was around.

Her delicate fingers dancing

shyly across the keys

like the touch

on a new lover’s face.

From another room, I listened

as her practices became once

more ~ quite perfect.

She never stopped until

the rheumatoid arthritis set in.

It was after that

the piano sat,

collecting dust for years

until her untimely death.

My dad sold the piano,

and I did not know

until after it was already

gone and there was nothing

he could do to cushion

the blow.

I couldn’t understand why ~

why he gave away

this part of mother we often

times still heard play.

And I don’t think I ever

forgave him.

Not just for giving up

the piano, but most

            for giving up

            my mother’s


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf