Poetry: Susanne Dyckman


what looks like

rest or thought

is wait

sitting on a wooden

slat what looks like seeing

is a world away

my fixed pause

the point, time —

where or how to sleep




New York City






with a change bag

pinned to my dress

and cinched neck, his

heavy under harness

side-by-side we share

the same short clip

(hair, mane)

alert to cobble-stoned

hooves, boots  —

absence not a stop

but shape        our gaits, stolen



New York City






how it is broad ways are

filled up,  steel and dirt

and stone-

truth full, all too fast

paced they say

but so slow

an eye sets on nothing

while the head nods yes



New York City




These poems are from a longer series, inspired by the photographs of Lewis Hine (1874-1940), especially those he took while working as a reformer for the National Child Labor Committee in the early 1900’s.  I have drawn on his depictions of Ellis Island, New York City street life, and labor conditions throughout the Northeast and Southern states.

Hines photographs are noteworthy for many reasons, but of special interest, given the historical period in which he worked, is how he allows his subjects to look directly at the camera, creating a relationship between equals (the photographer and the photographed.)  My concern has been to find a poetic language that is, as a third participant, also equal, while at the same time allowing the innate language to come forward from the static image.

I am gratefully indebted to Hine and his camera.


Susanne Dyckman is the author of a full-length volume of poetry, equilibrium’s form (Shearsman Books), and two chapbooks, Counterweight (Woodland Editions) and Transiting Indigo (EtherDome).  Her work has appeared in a number of journals, most recently shadowtrain.com, Volt, and the Paper Kite Press anthology poem, home. She has been a thesis advisor for the University of San Francisco MFA in Writing program, an editor of the journal Five Fingers Review and its Woodland Editions chapbook series, and a judge for the San Francisco State University Ann Fields Poetry Contest. A co-winner of the Five Fingers Review Poetry Award (prior to her association with the journal), she was also a finalist for the Electronic Poetry Review Discovery Award and the Ahsahta Press Sawtooth Poetry Prize.  For five years she curated and hosted the now-occasional Evelyn Avenue summer reading series.  She lives in Albany and works for Children’s Hospital Oakland.