Susan Grimm

Devil in the Window

Long swath of green she used to mow, Aunt Billie raking behind. She has just stood on the back steps gripping the rail.

Repeating objects. Sunsets. Hand clippers. Georgette Heyer. The Antique Road Show/tv trundled back to its closet home.

Who no longer dusts. Who no longer climbs the basement stairs. In her peripheral vision, a dead spot, a face. 

*Author note. In the form of a black dog. In the form of a lion roaring. What spirit would crush her slow legs. Devouring this old flesh would satisfy what.

Waiting with bacon and frozen stacks of mac and cheese. Does she feel horror gripping her bowels, magma hot, heavy as old lead. Lapping and pressing up to her heart.

*Author note. Hellion. Djinn. Diablo. Power of affliction. Rising backwards through our bodies. Now and at the hour of our death— Can she push that away. Question the corners of her eyes. Draw her ghosts around like a sibilant shawl.

You can’t lock your doors against the devil or the dead. Her bedroom window cracked open every night.

(Each episode does not have a clear opening, meaning we could sometimes start in midstream.)

The inside of her head after the stroke.

Throwing the Pies

The only time Aunt Bunny rode in a hearse she was seventeen, jostling on the floor with seven others or eight.

Shorty (she didn’t call him that) had saved up his cash, rolled up to the door, cool as a cube, to load them in. Everyone then with some sisters, three cousins or brothers.

Repeating objects. Corn cobs, napkin baskets, wax packet salt. Pickles, fried chicken legs, thick butter bread.

*Author note. Picnic. A rhyming procession, festive in nature. An uncertain excursion in the open air. Not for the finicky—see Aunt Billie. Her rhinestoned cat glass eyes skittering.

Coddling the pies, Aunt Bunny climbs out of the car. A thread hanging from the trees flick-shivers her neck.

Gooses and graves. Aunt Bunny screams, lurches, her arms fly up in a trick of the flesh. Following the arc, a donkey’s bray—Shorty laughs his hyena laugh.

*Author note. This is what I dream she dreams. A tiny story that starts with a laugh. Bird song over the pie crush. A damp hillocky cloth spread over the grass. The whole summer afternoon, tableau and shifting, in the dark-windy maple shade.

(Each episode does not have a clear opening, meaning we could sometimes start in midstream.)

The inside of her head after the stroke.



From the Author: These two poems are part of a series that I wrote called “Aunt Bunny.” When I first thought about writing this, I was thinking of making it a graphic novel (I have never written a graphic novel.). I think that’s why there’s an emphasis on things that can be viewed. Another thing that concerned me was how to suggest a state of mind that was sometimes wispy, uncertain, repetitive, and faulty.

Susan Grimm has been published in Sugar House Review, The Cincinnati Review, Phoebe, and Field.  Her chapbook Almost Home was published in 1997. In 2004, BkMk Press published Lake Erie Blue, a full-length collection. In 2010, she won the inaugural Copper Nickel Poetry Prize. In 2011, she won the Hayden Carruth Poetry Prize and her chapbook Roughed Up by the Sun’s Mothering Tongue was published. In 2022, she received her third Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant.