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A Poetry and Photography Showcase
Fall Edition, October 2009, Volume 9

Poetry by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Crossing the Manhattan Bridge

his feet took the rhythm of the cables
    that held up the metal
where his feet took the rhythm of the cables
only I stepped in shadow, stepped in shadow
of the cables
                   held up metal

where his feet took the rhythm of the cables
  was all blue & the cables
    that held up the metal
where his feet took the rhythm of the cables
were white

            & together made the sky
blue & white

             until an orange storm
came over my eyes
                 to rain brighter colors
from the pill he pushed into my eyes

like he pushed his gut against my spine
when he danced closer then I'd meant
when we got to Brooklyn
where we'd gone to dance
before the memorial
                     of war

where no one ever danced
but squirrels

Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009


we are not our red robes  form
           of the Prince  sword
resurrects his power in knots
 of flesh & claims

            which gets around
            he executes

      in your name, victim
if necessary (dissenting) family member

                          empty (the) scales
can weigh (your case)

                     there must be something you need

Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009

First Not Sex

so young we didn't know why he warned us not to bleed
that isn't right——he said we'd better not be

we didn't have to wonder if we should claim we were
he'd have killed us

or just left us is what we didn't have to /k/now

so young we didn't know we could bleed
from anything but sc(rapes)

                          & cuts
                                & glass left in our /cub/bies

                                we were the school sluts

so young it wasn't our fault
it never could have been——this way we grew to know

          more than bookshelves breaking plaster wings
        all our creased ears

Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009

Over River

                              a (broken) woman's (broken) back
even women cross                                                      where torrents crash

Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009

Flash Flood

  no one expects to drown this far inland
where aqueducts aren’t raised & copper
not laid beneath cars & aching feet

  and the drowned did not expect
water to turn on them
without granting them scales

  their souls melt torrents
from mountains we can’t see
boiling each other’s rage

  Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009

Jolene Naylor

Elizabeth Kate Switaj

About the Author

Since receiving her MFA from the now-defunct New College of California Poetics Program in 2004, Elizabeth Kate Switaj has published Magdalene & the Mermaids (Paper Kite Press), Shanghai (Gold Wake Press), and The Broken Sanctuary: Nature Poems (Ypolita Press). She has written reviews for Feminist Review, Galatea Resurrects, Experimental Fiction & Poetry, and Mad Hatter's Review.

She has taught English in Chiryu and Ashikaga (Japan), the Dragon Lake Development Area of Zhengzhou (China), Brooklyn, and Seattle. While in Brooklyn, she also wrote online copy for a kimono retailer.

Elizabeth is currently researching James Joyce at Queen's University Belfast, and is a member of the editorial board of Gender Across Borders:


You can purchase Magdalene & the Mermaids
by clicking below:

Please visit Elizabeth's website at:

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August Moon

heat-drunk cats stretch asleep
way past claws & teeth
why don't you wake them?

Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009

Inch Beach

  fear drifting jellyfish
that learned mercy of the sea
love drifting jellyfish
that learned oceanic cruelty

  and when they die
wear thick gloves
lift them up before the sun

  examine the lines: here
is your saint, here
are your people

  put up a door
& there is your chapel

Elizabeth Kate Switaj © 2009

Enjoy this slideshow of beautiful photography taken by Elizabeth in her world wide travels:

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