Memory Curve


I took pains to starve my memory,
practicing on as many things as I could,
some of them I lost intentionally:
my umbrella in a cab, my sunglasses
on a café table, my pen in a library:
forcing myself to forget when and where –


I tried not to remember phrases I’d used,
that got me where I am: life must go on,
things will turn for the better, life is
too short to dwell on the past, we have
to forget and move on, and so on and on:
words that once could’ve redeemed the future –


I stopped wearing a watch (They said he’d
been taken at 10:30 p.m. and released
26 hours later, but no one has seen him
since), though my grandfather said one
thing that kept him sane in the konzlager
was remembering what happened and when,


yet a couple of hours before passing on,
he asked my grandmother: What time is it,
what day, and she answered: 8:30, dear, Sunday
evening, to which he mumbled, his eyes fixed
on the ceiling: Didn’t hear the alarm clock,
still there’s time to get to a Sunday mass.


that, perhaps, is the only way to circumvent
the memory curve, to open the front door
with the key to the place I no longer have,
jerk the lock toward me to hear the click,
step slowly into the empty space and have
the words come out on their own: Anybody home?

Mario Susko

About the poet: Mario Susko, a witness and survivor of the war in Bosnia, came, in a sense, back to the US at the end of 1993. He has taught at the University of Sarajevo and Nassau Com. College, where his is currently an Associate Professor in the English Department. He is the recipient of several awards, including the 1997 and 2006 Nassau Review Poetry Award, the 1998 Premio Internazionale di Poesia e Letteratura "Nuove Lettere" ( Naples, Italy ), and the 2000 Tin Ujevic Award for "Versus Exsul" for the best book of poems published in Croatia in 1999. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and short-listed for the Forward Poetry Prize. He has authored 25 books of poems, his fourth book in English, Eternity on Hold, having been released by Turtle Point Press, NY, in 2005. The Croatian version was released last November by Meandarmedia, Zagreb.