Two Poems by Fraser Sutherland

Two Poems

Poems by Fraser Sutherland

Art by A. Quinn



We eat nine toffees for breakfast


My cousin teaches me Japanese

at the dining table. The dog

sleeps underneath an empty

chair. It is nine in the morning.

There are nine toffees in a bowl. Kyu,

she says, and it sounds like the curling

question at the end of a bird call.


It is the morning before our grandfather’s

funeral. She is too young to remember

when he smiled.  She probably remembers

the hospital, the bottles of scotch.


A fan pushes stale air

across our faces. We are both

encased in black cotton, sitting

like small shadows on the wooden

chairs. Outside, birds scatter over grass

like sunflower seeds. Ku

I say, but that is too close

to suffering.


Below everything the dog

stretches worn muscles. A bark.

Brown wings stitch themselves

into a cloud before fragmenting

against the sun. We move on


to the next number

and keep eyes away from the empty

chair, the pair of binoculars resting easy

against the cushion. We eat nine

toffees and spread the wrappers

in a patch of sunlight.

Campfire Ban


Open windows. My arm stretched to grab

fistfuls of air. You watch as smoke

and mountains inhale each other.


Too hot to touch, I drink your Gatorade

and fiddle with the vinyl seat cover.

Crickets. Your hand plays with the gearshift,


fingers the lighter. The shadow of a black bear

curls in yellow grass. We inch

down the highway. Below,


the river drags itself against the valley.

Swallows cellphones, a single sandal,

a child’s inflatable pool toy. The smoke


tangles itself inside the rapids.

The car is a silver stone reflected against

the water, pushed by the current. I peel


skin off plastic. Inhale the smoke,

the sun, the Gatorade. Ask why August

is the longest month.


When you don’t answer I ghost

fingers across the gearshift,

but your hand has already moved to light


a cigarette. Smoke erupts

from your lips, sinks

into my hair, the lines


of my face. We continue

down the highway.