Susan Birkeland Poetry

January 18, 1961 ~ Nov. 18 2006).


Three for Susan


I was in Blockbusters video store renting Barbie's Twelve Dancing Princesses,
and Brother Bear II, for my daughter, Sophia. We were just paying, the young man
at the counter was talking as I took a call. "That'll be eleven dollars 'til Wednesday,
but you can actually keep thes forever if you want to
". It was like I was in a dream.
His voice trailed away as I listened to the clumsy cell phone and it Debra who was
telling me that her sister, my close friend and neighbor had perhaps two weeks to live.
I felt faint & almost fell to the floor. "Susan's condition had taken a turn for the worse,"
she said. 'What do you mean? There's really no hope of recovery at all?"
"That's right," Debra said, "there is no hope at all." We talked a little more.
Sophia went on asking "Who's on the phone daddy? What is it?" I held her hand,
"It's Susan, she's in the hospital again." I said, as we walked out the door.

I told this to Death under my breath, you disco-duck idiot, you buffoon! Who do you
think you are? You're no one, but negation. You can't have dear Susan, not now, not
later or soon. I defy death, like Gregory Corso even more so! I won't address you
in the personal, it's not you or Sue; not God nor evil, so depart from our hearts, disappear
from this hospital, go back to nowhere as never you were before. Be gone!



Face to face with my good friend's death, not even my own & I can't handle it.
Dear Susan where are you going? Can you write me a poem when you get there or
send me a message to let me know how you are? Because I don't quite believe this
is happening to you any more than I am witnessing it again, when some one
so smart & so young and so dear preparing to die... It's so unclear.

As we discussed it once you said, Art is everywhere & everything, if we can't see
that then we're more blind than the truly blind could be! Not even Leonardo da Vinci
can change that or help us to see; no museum archive can improve our sight, no vision
or act can change the closed mind that is not free. We strive to be unique with our limited
grasp, but need not even try when we are open, when things are seen as they are at last...



I dare not start again for all my sorrow for Susan who is dying as I write this,
for fear the grief again may be interminable as death is, unalterable, indiscernible,
indescribable and all circumscribing, as yet un-crying I hesitate apprehending the same
pitfalls of work, of the living, never being able to face the endless travail of telling the
terminable in terms of the terminal that is all of us. Laying out our hearts in this
absolute telling, the mourning that's ever coming, the same as Susan.

In San Francisco General, barring some miracle you will die within hours,
perhaps minutes, and we're all praying for your warm release and soft
embrace into some heavenly place where we may all wish to be. Alas
there's only these minutes creeping in on me to write as if time were crushing us all
as when cars collide, like buzzing warplanes, like paper shredders and work's manifold
obsessions, rapacious as timing belts; all the clockworks in the world snapping at once
and I'm left here at your bed side in some interminable space, in a time you yourself seem
to approve of which has come to the end thus releasing me, releasing all of us until then
again and, then again.

© Thomas M. Stolmar 2007

Tom Stolmar poet painter performance artist gadfly proud father accomplished carpenter providing comic relief supreme social wit,caustic political commentary, in days of yore at legendary venues of the '80's and '90's Cafe Babar Chameleon, Above Paradise and a favorite feature at many of Susan's productions currently writing working painting and making occasional cameo appearances in the San Francisco poetry scene and according to Tom not doing many back flips off the stage these days.