A native of Sarajevo, Mario Susko is a witness and survivor of the war in Bosnia. He left the city in 1993 and, in a sense, came back to the US, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. from SUNY at Stony Brook in the 1970s. He taught at the University of Sarajevo and Nassau Com. College where he is currently an Associate Professor in the English Department. He is the recipient of several awards, including the 1997 Nassau Review Poetry Award, the 1998 Premio Internazionale di Poesia e Letteratura "Nuove Lettere" (Naples, Italy) for his collection "Mothers, Shoes and Other Mortal Songs," the 2000 Tin Ujevic Award for "Versus Exsul" as the best book of poetry published in Croatia in 1999, and the 2003 State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Several of his poems were nominated for awards both in the US and the UK, his poem published by "Dream Catcher" (No. 13) having been the finalist for the 2004 Forward Poetry Prize in the best single poem category. Mario Susko is also known as a prolific editor and translator, having translated work by Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, William Styron, James Baldwin, Theodore Roethke, and e. e. cummings, among others.
Mother will sit at the table
in the cold white kitchen,
waiting for me to bring her
my book in which I write
how I dug up her bones
to take them back home.
She'll be there, reconstructed,
like the faces of the houses,
with me wondering which tree
in the park that will never sprout
twigs again was her coffin.
My hand will smell of dirt
and rotten leaves as I turn
the pages looking for some proof
which is not a painted-over truth.
Knowing where she truly is perhaps
I'd forget where I must be.
She'll say, I've never understood
any of your poems, and I'll see myself
closing the book gently in her lap,
pretending I have the wrong page,
the wrong house, and the wrong city.