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‘Ghost Harbingers’ and other poems by Suzanne Cottrell

By: Suzanne Cottrell

Ghost Harbingers

Once I walked on dry coastal plains,
smelled the balmy scent of white cedars,
where white-tailed deer and black bears,
roamed and barred owls nested.
Forests hemmed between eroding
beaches and flat farmland.

Sea levels rise at alarming rates,
briny water seeps into coastal soils,
hurricanes push salt-water farther inland,
marshlands migrate to agricultural fields.

My footsteps sink, mud oozes up boots
I hear trees moan as
salt penetrates, burns within veins
soil too wet, too salty to sustain growth

Today pale skeletons, ghost forests,
the passing of a generation with no offshoots .
Stumps and salt patches mark
nature’s burial grounds.


Out of Time

Mother Nature’s torrential tears
pour down in frustration

saturate terrain
raise water levels

evacuate inland now
go farther, go farther still

angry rivers crest,
flood waters isolate

I wish for gills, fins, flippers
I would swim with the current

out to sea if only I
knew where safe refuge exists


Worm-ridden Republic

Over two hundred years ago, our ancestors attempted to ensure our nation’s sovereignty, indirect democracy, and civil liberties with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Yet, today there are those who challenge the validity of the documents for our contemporary society. Some argue that the Constitution paralyzes governmental operations. An imbalance of power among the three branches of government exists. The burdensome amendment process delays change. Is our government held hostage to such critics? Are our rights stripped away in the name of homeland security or social welfare?

This nation, a cradle, has endured bumpy rocking by politicians, lobbyists, and special interest groups. Now the wood appears worn and worm-ridden. It slowly rots and disintegrates before our eyes. Awaken the sleeping baby, our nation’s apathetic citizens, swaddled in the cradle, a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” in need of repair before it is no longer salvageable.


Celestial Clutter

Decades of international space exploration
cosmos, a junk drawer of orbital debris.

Universe’s contribution: meteoroids,
grains of dust, chunks of rock,
a trail of drifting debris
that Earth must plow through

Mankind’s contribution:
defunct satellites, discarded rockets.
hatch covers, nuts and bolts, human waste,
records of space travel

Trash, in need of disposal, or
archaeological treasures,
in need of preservation

Cascading fragments, potential collisions,
sparkling objects, diamonds in onyx sky
appear harmless to heavenly stargazers.


Danger Below

sweet cornbread baked in the oven
the tattered screen door of the farmhouse
propped open with a broom handle
she stood in the kitchen doorway

beads of sweat trickled down her back
flies buzzed around her matted hair
she fanned herself with last week’s newspaper

she struggled in the rural abyss
her steel blue eyes stared at wilted corn stalks
her demeanor was cold like an iceberg

she guarded her thoughts, massive ice chunks
drifted in the North Atlantic
her feelings hidden beneath the
surface of her exposed, parched skin

I never got to know her, refusing
to submerge and explore her iced layers
fearful of uncovering hidden secrets
frozen within her unsettled mind


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