INVISIBLE FISH $17
Invisible Fish is a poetic chronicle from girlhood to post-middle age by Midwestern author and somatic therapist, Susan F. Glassmeyer. These compelling lyrics and merciful narratives do not shy away from suffering or death, nor from what is poignant and joyful. The whole realm of the visible—the world as it is—is held together by what we cannot see. Because the poems in this full-length collection are grounded in the sensory life of "the body", they ring true to the reader, inviting mindfulness and evoking curiosity and reverence for what is invisible.
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Extreme cold. Surfeit
of snow. Fire in the hearth.
Roof overhead. Overheard
a mother cooing to her sick
baby at work today. Hearts
purred. Chocolates spilled
over the edge of the office
candy dish. Music I adore
poured out of the radio’s lips.
Hugs. Luscious full-frontal
hugs today. None of those
priggish A-frames. The body
wants what the body wants.
Sometimes my legs just
want to touch someone else’s
legs. It’s not an idea. It’s a real
human craving I confess to.
More satisfying than draping
Mardi Gras beads around
the concrete neck of Kuan Yin,
who wants for nothing.
Not me. I’m forever wanting.
An embarrassment of food
in the fridge to indulge in:
cook’s luck chili, roasted
root vegetables, rice pudding.
Leftover conversation hearts
still on the kitchen table.
I’m full of love for the carnal.
Don't remind me all this will end
someday. Keep your ashes
off my forehead. Look!
Just now, out the window,
a doe leaps twenty feet
over the snowy hammock.
(after William Stafford)
Even now against my flesh the fear of water comes back,
the shock of losing my ground. Pressure on my lungs
bears down. The crowd is splashing around laughing.
All the neighbor children scatter and jump.
That day the game the boys were playing grew wild
and wilder, out of control; with one sharp push
off the concrete island pier, I’m gone
sinking, and praying my last act of contrition.
A girl, right there, from the junior lifeguard post
dives in and catches me like a fish. Hooks her life
around mine. Pulls me back from the depths of a world.
Nothing is forgotten now, after that plunge, the sky . . .
So bright, and the raw hungering for air: my cry.
And the sun, the burst of heat on my face, stinging.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
The poems in Invisible Fish, Susan Glassmeyer’s first full length volume, are remarkable for both their strength and vulnerability, for their insistence that generosity is a choice always available to us, for their defiant love that takes on all comers. Clear-sighted and tender, Glassmeyer’s poems push past our often self-imposed constraints to befriend beings human or animal in all their awkward striving and unmitigated hope. In the unforgettably restrained “On Old Congress Run Road,” in an incident transcribed from Glassmeyer’s own life, the speaker stops traffic and sits down in the midst of a heavily traveled road to shelter a stranger’s dog (“her collar says Bailey”) already struck by two vehicles. Daring to approach the mystery of this world not quite knowing what will be found there, these poems gently embolden us to commit our own acts of courage. We are both relieved and astonished to be reminded that the most responsible organ in the human body is not the head but the heart.
Poet, Critic, Writing Coach
We have to take this writer at her word; we have no choice. The integrity in the telling. The consideration of the reader which borders on holy. The elegant and convincing voice. Susan Glassmeyer believes in a world she cannot see—before, during and after life. Poems about the difficult-to-detect, the in-between, the beyond, the forgotten, the dismissed—in the hands of a somatic therapist so in touch with the body and trained to pay utmost attention—keep us grounded so we can take them in. These poems could serve as homilies. They make uncommon sense.
—Valerie Chronis Bickett
Poet, Teacher, Author of Triandafilo
In her latest work, Invisible Fish, Susan gives form through delicate lyrics and sensitive narratives to the difficult, the beautiful, the unsayable, and even the unimaginable. Her descriptions offer the world as a place to taste and see, an abode of mystery that can be counted on to yield pain, death, wonder, love, and, sometimes, healing. It is through the poetic contours of the positive spaces—things that can be seen and known—that Susan shapes the negative spaces of what cannot be seen or known in this embodied life, but only imagined. There is a mercy here, a gentleness of touch in the depiction of the world as it is that yields a softer vision of it: a place where a thick scar is a strand of pearls; where accidental injury and death yield a still life of wet roses on the pavement; where one can bite the sharp darkness and revolutionize sorrow through the body. One comes away from these intriguing poems with new sight, and isn’t that what poetry is about?
Poet, Professor University of Cincinnati
Invisible Fish, Susan Glassmeyer’s first full length collection, is the work of a poet well-versed in what lies beyond sight. Simultaneously, the subject of these exquisite poems is both the process of healing and the knowledge of the core within us which is already and forever whole. “You have to descend from the cloud of knowing / in order for fingers to feel the backbone / of what matters…,” Glassmeyer writes. What matters: a dying dog in the middle of the road (“I say, Touch her. I say, Don’t be afraid.”); an owl by a public pool, the “soft wild wing of the unexpected”; a woman cradled by her husband to the treatment table, “one branch / of her body a petrified silence”; a mother who, like the moon, “…placed yourself between / us, risking everything // so I might rest in the uncommon/ occurrence of your shadow”; a father whose "… fire lives on in me, banked and burning low,/…, a bonfire of words that / glow on these pages.” We, her readers, are grateful for the light.
Cincinnati Poet Laureate, 2016-2018
Filmmaker Federico Fellini was famously quoted: “All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” This collection of poems holds several strands of such pearls, fashioned by an artist whose penetrating insight is matched by superb craft. Susan Glassmeyer’s Invisible Fish is intimate, healing, startlingly honest and unvarnished. Whether delivered as free verse narratives, as prose poems, in categorized lists or clear tight formal structure, intentional language sparks the heart, mind and muscle of the reader. Even after multiple readings, I gasp, cringe, grin or rejoice, swimming with Invisible Fish, knowing how real they are.
Poet, Author of 50/50 Fifty Under Fifty
There is not a single superfluous poem (in Invisible Fish). I can only describe the effect of Glassmeyer’s poems to be the admirable result of writing with nerve endings. This is obviously not easy to achieve.
Poet, Editor of Galatea Resurrects
A somatic therapist in the Feldenkrais® tradition, Susan F. Glassmeyer writes poems that address the joys and challenges of embodiment. Many of her best poems explore the mind-body relationship, often invoking memory and imagination to prompt insight. Invisible Fish contains many treasures, each capturing a seemingly mundane event or memory and, through vivid imagery and tonal depth, opening the reader to the sort of healing “ah ha” that I’ll bet her patients at the Holistic Health Center of Cincinnati often experience.
Poet, short story author: http://www.daviddenny.net/