Mapping a life poems Susan T. Moss

picture of Susan Moss
Photo by Hal Himmelstein.  

In Mapping a Life, Susan Moss travels widely and passionately through man-made and natural terrain and through realms of the heart. Such leaps of faith, such chances she takes! In poems whose language is vigorous and vivid, she takes us with her every inch of the way. Marilyn L. Taylor writes, “The many facets of one woman's global travels--not limited to the perceptible--have been stunningly re-created here by Susan Moss, a poet of uncommon acuity and insight. Her solitary walk across a rural path ‘fringed. . .by mushrooms and speckled stones’ quickly expands into a world tour that includes a side-trip to an ancient forest she calls ‘time's arboretum’--and again at a ‘precipice of memories,’ encompassing destinations as disparate as Africa, Tokyo, and the south of Spain. Such wonders--along with affectionate glimpses of ‘fellow travelers’ who accompany the poet from time to time--make this a journey well worth taking.”
  Mapping a Life cover image
  Photo art by Alexa Frangos.

And this from Jared Smith: “Susan Moss's vividly imagistic poems embrace the flow of a richly lived life, mapping out the progression of each stage she has witnessed, from the exuberant passions of youth through the meditations of maturity leading to the wisdom we all hope to achieve, a peace that is the ‘still point’ within ourselves. In the end, all comes down to savoring each segment of life upon the map and understanding through good times and bad that one can only find that still point if ‘you keep walking past the bitter stones of hope. . .It is in the doing, every inch inhaled’ that one achieves it. This book is a gem to be held in your hands so that you can study every facet, allowing an understanding of a map of life that encompasses all of us.”

Veronica Patterson adds, “A map is not unlike a poem: It records terrain, it captures a time when, and it offers transport (by road, river, train, walking) connecting here to there, and self to former self. Moscow. The Great Wall of China. Spain. Zimbabwe. Japan. The intersection of Broadway and Devon. Susan Moss's travels to many places shift her perspective in striking ways. In Mapping A Life, each poem embodies a place come to--new or new-again ("a familiar route / that has changed"). Through these compelling poems, an attentive wayfaring spirit unwraps her insights and her vision.”

Click here for selections from the book.
Click here to read reviews and learn about upcoming events.


ISBN 978-1-943826-92-6
First Edition, 2021
84 pages

Copies of this book can be ordered
from all bookstores including Amazon
and directly from the author:

Susan T. Moss
609 E. Center Ave.
Lake Bluff, IL 60044

Please send $18.00 per book
plus $4.00 shipping in IL
and $6.00 beyond IL
by check payable to Susan T. Moss.



Sample Poems
copyright © 2021 by Susan T. Moss


                                   Swimming Freestyle with My Mother


                                    I finished the canned cling peaches
                                    floating in pear juice you preferred
                                    over heavy syrup.

                                    The last sweet slices mingled
                                    with other reminders
                                    of our life together and apart,

                                    each following her own current,
                                    both swimming up stream
                                    as age washed over you.

                                    When the last of your pantry ran dry,
                                    I waded through what my heart knows
                                    of our shared laughter,

                                    your wisdom and patience
                                    that encouraged me to breathe
                                    and stroke, kick and glide

                                    in deep water and the shallows,
                                    where it’s just as easy to drown
                                    if not alert to a sea change.




                                    Five hundred candles blaze
                                    a two-foot-wide path
                                    toward the center distilled
                                    from switchbacks and curves.

                                    The infusion of light blooms
                                    into a slow letting go
                                    of night sounds and my clicking
                                    heels on stone.

                                    Consciousness untethers
                                    its compass and like standing
                                    on a galactic canopy, I roam
                                    over the earth, look down
                                    at wax stars or glowing souls
                                    lifting me higher until no longer
                                    weighted by the sins of the world,
                                    backwash of hate or ghosts of self-pity.

                                    Circling dissolves into my longing
                                    to hold the instant where breath
                                    and time eclipse what was and will be,
                                    but I dare not linger

                                    as the light starts to dim
                                    along the journey
                                    unwinding too quickly back
                                    to where I started.

                                    Great Wall of China


                                    The stone structure twists
                                    and turns through mountain
                                    passes and over ridges—

                                    a colossal effort that slices
                                    the landscape, its barracks
                                    and guard towers perched

                                    above the fortress stretching
                                    five hundred years
                                    and thousands of miles,

                                    with some sections now mounded
                                    like sleeping camels given way
                                    to time and decay

                                    while outside Bejing, sunlight
                                    glints off renovated granite steps
                                    into the past.

                                    All that effort to divide, repel
                                    or impose, so much energy
                                    to flaunt power and grandeur

                                    beyond view—the age-worn
                                    question of what we keep
                                    walling in or walling out.

                                    Point Amour Lighthouse  


                                    Beacon of concrete and brick
                                    pulsing a path through hidden
                                    rocks beyond jagged shore—

                                    solitary pilot for those astray
                                    in fog and shifting reefs—
                                    guides to safe harbors up the coast.

                                    Bruising waves batter its
                                    moldering groundwork
                                    anchored to granite rock

                                    while sea-wrecked hull
                                    forsaken by fog and man
                                    one moonless night

                                    many tides ago, rusts in salty
                                    ebb and flow that carried sailors
                                    to secret coves and treasure.

                                    Pillar of hope and vision keeper
                                    aged by wind and water
                                    stands alert to dreamers lost at sea.

                                    Traveling the World

                                    Listen more carefully to lilt
                                    of voice, passion of clicks
                                    and glottals, smiling words,
                                    the staccato or flow

                                    of any language and hear
                                    hope after the handshake
                                    with a stranger who also
                                    seeks a better world.

                                    Speak more plainly, not
                                    the spew from politicians,
                                    desperate salesmen, sirens’
                                    promise of fairy tales come true.

                                    Embrace the conspiracy of peace
                                    sprinkled among bitter crumbs
                                    of war while fists open
                                    to calls of understanding—

                                    amity beyond frozen hatred,
                                    newly grounded tolerance,
                                    a lost dream awakened
                                    from the darkness of despair.

                                    The Viewing


                                    We ride beside death,
                                    its dazzling profile
                                    sheathed in a shiny gray hearse,
                                    whitewalls spinning
                                    toward hallowed ground.
                                    In the front sit
                                    two starch-shirted men,
                                    each mute as the rider
                                    oblivious to this last journey
                                    blazoned with tulips and hyacinth.

                                    The radio from our passing car
                                    pounds exploding rhythms
                                    that urge us to speed up,
                                    wave our brightly spun scarves,
                                    thumb our noses
                                    at the poor stiff
                                    who can’t hear the music,
                                    feel the titillating vibrations
                                    or cool breeze
                                    rippling our hair.

                                    Instead we mumble our condolences
                                    to no one in particular
                                    and mostly to ourselves.
                                    We slow down and let the pale rider
                                     pass us by.


                                    Lesson from the Mountains


                                    Sometimes the path grows steep
                                    and the air slices into thinning doubt
                                    but you keep walking
                                    past bitter stones of hope.

                                    A crescent moon competes
                                    with shimmering sun
                                    that washes over resilient granite
                                    like an urgent call

                                    to unwrap the fortitude saved
                                    for sudden barbed winds
                                    that splinter your heart
                                    like the white bones of dead trees.

                                    Golden flames of light
                                    exhaled by autumn aspens
                                    remind you to crack open
                                    crystals of courage

                                    on your halfway to somewhere,
                                    each bite of translucent sky
                                    big enough to swallow
                                    all fear.

                                    Traveling Light 


                                    All the indispensable maps
                                    and guidebooks have expired,
                                    heavy luggage expelled
                                    to a basement corner
                                    with Grandmother’s trunks
                                    from eighty years ago,
                                    and I am left wondering
                                    what might happen
                                    if I were to travel
                                    with only the shirt
                                    on my back and nothing
                                    to burden what’s left
                                    of the journey.