Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.


Poetry by Susan J. Erickson from Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine

Susan J. Erickson Bio

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Casa Azul


From the spectrum of ghosts, I painted

this house blue to guide my father

and mother to my door.  They sit

with Diego and me in the yellow kitchen.

Papa’s hands tremble

as he lights my cigarette.

Mama trails the scent

of incense from evening mass.


Papasito hides

behind his camera.

He records the portraits of our shadow

selves—the ones we want

the mirror to reflect.  Papa reminds me,

Do not smile.  You seduce the camera.


At Mama’s feet, the dogs

lick crumbs of pan dulce

from her fingers.  She fusses

about the kitchen.  From the strongbox

of her chest she pulls

a white handkerchief and bandages

my painting to soak up its blood.

Her rosary beads click, bones breaking.

She is tired of my gashes and scars.

When she returns to the spirit world,

I reopen the wounds, the palette

from which I paint myself.


This house of cobalt

is the womb where I will die.  For years

Death and I have played

at the game of exquisite corpse.

Before my first Communion, Death drew

my withered leg.  I counter,

sketching my heart.  See

how it palpitates in my bare hands?


Frida Kahlo Prepares an Altar for Día de los Inocentes


The sugar skulls that honor my babies

are tiny skeletons of doves fallen


from the thorn trees onto the patio

of the Blue House.  No sugar letters


spell out names on the skulls.

My broken body took each baby


from me before I knew if it were he

or she.  The nest of my pelvis, tossed


and pierced, is flimsy as sticks thrown together

by doves to cradle their young.  For my angelitos


I bring a toy truck, tin whistles, cardboard puppets,

a baby’s gold necklace.  I raid the garden


of marigolds, string them into garlands

to drape over the altar, bright as lights


around a carnival ride.  Their fragrance, bold

as mariachi trumpets—who can sleep?


Tonight sit with me.  Drink tequila.

Sing for the Inocentes, yours and mine.


When it’s time for them to slip back

to the spirit world, we will kiss them on the lips


of their souls, where Death dares not touch.

We will pour a shot for Death.  And laugh.


Frida’s Clothesline


Diego’s underpants, pegged on the line,

flap like pink surrender flags.  My Diego

is a gordito.  The mercantile does not stock his size

in underwear.  I have them made to his measurements,

which are secret, of course.


Diego’s appetites are as big as his belly—

not even pink undershorts deter his conquests.

For years I’ve tried to goad Diego into fidelity.

But I am the surrendering party.  I should grab

a pair of his underwear from the line and wave them

like a bullfighter’s faded muleta.


Instead I sit in his lap, feed him

his favorite squash cake in small cubes

from my fingers.  Like a baby.

Diego is my baby.  He pat, pat, pats,

his belly as if he were carrying our child.

He leaves only crumbs for the monkeys.

What a glutton! 


Diego did not promise me

faithfulness, but loyalty.  Now with my own hands,

in the colors of the Mexican flag, I embroider

his pink percale with that vow.  The prick

of the needle?  I shrug it off. 


While I stitch, I sing that song Diego likes so much,

La Bruja.”  I do not hum its melody.  I shout its words.

Listen, Diego, listen: 

“Oh tell me, oh tell me, oh tell me please!

How many children have you sucked dry of life?”


The scissors sigh.      I stitch L.      Then O,

in stitches that can never be pulled out.


Frida and Frankenstein


Frankenstein, poor fellow, is a piñata

molded and pasted from bits and pieces:

brown leather boot, stick of dynamite,

flayed skin, piano key teeth, brain

snatched from formaldehyde,

and a tarnished tinsel heart.


His fate?  To be knocked and smashed

for the fun of destruction.  I’ve seen this movie

more than once.  But today, I show

Frankenstein my damaged paw.  He steps

from the screen, lumbers down the dark

theatre aisle, kneels before my seat and asks


I come away with him, be his companion.

We slip outside the theatre, along

an alleyway to a small hotel, take a room

overlooking the street women at work.

I tell the story of how I became a monster

in one afternoon.  I show him patches


and stitches, the zipper of saw marks

on my spine.  Oh, damn, he is sobbing.  Even he

understands it’s not going to work.

I dry his tears and send him back

to his black and white life. 


Sleeping With Trotsky


El Viejo.  I called him El Viejo—old man—

because he was.  Old.  And because his goatee

and hair were white and wispy

like the old man cactus in the garden

at the Blue House.


And I called him Piochitas

little goatee—because I tugged

at his beard when he shot

words at me as if I were a revolutionary

against the execution wall. 


With the same rapid-fire delivery,

Trotsky, ex-commander of the Red Army,

made love like an item on his to-do list.

He should have enrolled in the History

of Frida and Diego’s Love Life.


I could recite dates, names, battles, truces

of that ongoing war.  Sleeping with Trotsky

was my offensive move for Diego’s audacity

in bedding my sister.  Should I have warned

an old man that Diego threatened to shoot traitors?


I sent El Viejo off for further study of cacti,

to enlarge his collection of exotic species.

Let him admire their flowers, wrestle

with their spines, stay up late to see

the night-bloomers, watch them wilt.


The Ballad of Frida and Diego


“Diego, this portrait is for you

our fifteen years entwined.

Its single head, half you, half me—

the features misaligned,

our psyches misaligned.


Our brows like birds’ disjointed wings

fly over eyes askew

our lips contort in fractured kiss

the me that’s not quite you,

the us that’s split in two.


A common necklace binds us tight

with branch that’s lost its leaves

its roots enmesh both shell and conch

where sun and moon still cleave,

both you and I now cleave.


In black fedora the murderer

with dagger in his grip,

surveys his love awash in blood:

I took A Few Small Nips,

only a few small nips.


Your razor charm and green sword eyes

captured my sister’s bed.

Betrayal takes its own small nips

the wounds concealed inside,

still bleed and scar inside.


I paint Two Fridas I’ve become:

one in Tehuna dress

your portrait tethered to my heart

accelerates my pulse.

Diego is my pulse.


The other dressed in bridal white

with sectioned heart exposed

my blood cascades from severed vein

my beings juxtaposed,

two beings juxtaposed.”


This ballad ends as many do

when truth and myth collide

as Frida dies and yields her flesh

Diego at her side,

obsession gratified.


Your sacred ashes I consume

my dear niña Frida.

My being finally melds with yours,

cries, Viva la Vida!

cries, Viva la Frida!


Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine here!