Two Poems by Susan Yanos, 2018 Frontier Fellow

It’s no secret that the literary world has baked-in institutional obstacles and biases, and our fellowships, like all we do, are intended as an effort to break those barriers. We are honored to share with you all two poems by our 2018 Frontier Fellow, Susan Yanos—winner of the $500 grant, editorial mentorship, and publication. Susan is a wonderfully talented poet over 50 who is debuting her first collection in 2019 from Finishing Line Press. Check out the pre-order here, and please, enjoy her two new poems below.

Canning Tomatoes

Arms tired from grinding the handle
I exert what I can to scrape flesh
from skin which then rolls
into flaked tubes chasing the blades
of the mill. So much of my life spent
on food. Juice sieves from grate, a good
measure, pressed down, shaken, overflowing
the bowl in the sink. I stop and empty
into pot on stove. On other burners,
quartered sections boil down and the canner
heats. Jars and rings wait in sudsy
water. Steam fogs kitchen windows, blurring
outside from in, in from out. More
buckets of late-picked fruit
at the kitchen door sit.

The mill and heat do the work yet
much preparation is required. It
wasn’t enough to cut open; I had
to boil, crush, season with thyme,
simmer. In the months ahead,
I will serve him, poured out over
pasta, sopping into crust, or holding
beans in chili. Red pulp mingles with sweat
staining my arms, cloths discarded
on counter, drips from elbows, smears
across gut. I turn back
to the mill. Just then he comes,
smelling of ripe grain, and enfolds
me from behind, his scar-pocked
hands plating my breasts.


The Tongue Has No Bone

When I tell you I love you I believe
it’s true. This spineless muscle savors all
my words the same. Perhaps I’ve merely fused
love’s taste with salty lobes my tongue licks clean
when whispering to you. Everything
is as it is: that Christmas you gave a
thesaurus after I refused at first
your ring. It sat for years untouched, maligned
mute testament to words flung out in pain
to cause more pain intended or no. This
too I believed—until just meter grasped
and turned all out inside to tales our tongues
branded on bone. Could you see what I could
not, that words would bring me back to you.

Susan Yanos

Susan Yanos is the author of the collection of poetry The Tongue Has No Bone (Finishing Line Press), Woman, You Are Free: A Spirituality for Women in Luke (St. Anthony Messenger Press), and is co-editor and co-author of Emerging from the Vineyard: Essays by Lay Ecclesial Ministers (Fortuity Press).  Her poems, essays, and articles have appeared in several journals and publications, including Saint Katherine Review, Presence, Bearings, Dictionary of Midwestern LiteratureVolume Two, and the on-line journal Atrium. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Frontier Poetry New Voices Fellowship. She has been a professor of writing and literature, pastoral minister, spiritual director, and editor. She lives with her husband on their farm in east central Indiana where she tends to her hens, fruit trees, and gardens.

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