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Big Pink Umbrella
April 2008

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Dreams for Breakfast
March 2010

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The God Thing
February 2013

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Over the Edge - The First Ten Years - An anthology of fiction & poetry
November 2013

Bone Fire

Susan Millar DuMars

ISBN: 978-1-910669-41-9

Page Count: 60

Publication Date: Monday, April 18, 2016

About this Book

The bones are the bones of the poet – integral to the landscape of her body. The bones are the spines of trees, the bone white of the moon. They belong to the hawk, the blackbird, the lion and the deer.  They are, too, the bones of the dead and discarded, the martyred and maimed and the simply inconvenient. They are the bones of the forgotten, who have not forgotten us....

The fire is love and lust – a lover’s tongue, a naked woman. It’s the red stones of a canyon. The fire is the red hair of the poet’s grandfather, the blood of JFK, a warehouse burning in South Philadelphia.  Most of all, the fire is destruction; a torching, a bonfire, a clearing of space for whatever comes next.

Bone Fire asks how to mourn what’s lost; love what is.

Praise for The God Thing by Susan Millar DuMars

A poet who...asks the bigger questions – unapologetically so – in language that is direct and immediate.                                        
Philip Cummins (Poetry Ireland Review, Issue 115, June 2015)
And above all, as in a parched land, there wells up on these pages desire, deep and grounded.                   
Conall O’Cuinn (The Furrow, Volume 65, February 2014)

Author Biography

Susan Millar DuMars has published three previous collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, The God Thing, appeared in March, 2013. She published a book of short stories, Lights in the Distance, with Doire Press in 2010, and was a featured fiction writer on Atticus Review in late 2014. She is currently at work on a second story collection. Her work has been widely anthologized. Born in Philadelphia, Susan lives in Galway, Ireland, where she and her husband Kevin Higgins have coordinated the Over the Edge readings series since 2003. She is the editor of the 2013 anthology Over the Edge: The First Ten Years, published by Salmon.

Read a sample from this book

The First Rule

Will I show you what to do
with a naked woman?

You can
lie on top of her
feel her yield
taste her salt
ride her undulations
know her to be ocean
almost drown

leave her
the wind again her breath
the tide again her muscles
the rocks again her bones.

This is a naked woman.
Rain fed
pulsing soft.

Respect, sailor, 
is the first rule of the sea.


I torched our orchard last night.
The first flames were feathers
fallen from some bright,
fabled bird.
The trees wept sparks and apples
and I said goodbye
to the faces in the bark.

Soon it was a field of light
like the glass sunsets of winter
when you’d be tucked in safe
while I wandered the orchard,
protecting our perimeter.

The fire panted, a great animal
and I thought of the time,
my head in your lap,
a kind-eyed lion
was painted on the sky.
I thought it was sent to keep us safe,
believed in guardians then,
spells, the voices
of branches. And you.
None of that matters now.

Last night I torched the orchard.
It’s gone now.  I’m not sure
it was ever there.

Bobby Sands in South Philadelphia

Betty’d come over
on the boat, like Mom.
Why should I feel sorry
for him?  A criminal.
He killed people.
Why should I
feel sorry?
She had opinions.
Mom had none.

Not when the vacant 
warehouse burned.
Smoke glittered 
in our living room.
I wanted to stay,
to lie on my back and watch it
satiate the open space
but was yanked like a tooth
from our house, sent to sleep
on a neighbour’s floor
wrapped in borrowed blanket
siren lights reflecting
and no one knew
how that fire got started.
No one saw a thing.

My mom smuggled cupcakes
home in her handbag
when they had a birthday
party at work.  We ate
them greedily, licking bright
icing off swaddling napkins.

I couldn’t imagine
being hungry on purpose.

Copyright © Susan Millar DuMars 2016

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