Anne-Marie Cusac's poetry has appeared in Poetry, Iowa Review, TriQuarterly, The American Scholar, The Madison Review, and Crab Orchard Review.
Her first poetry book, The Mean Days(2001) was published by Tia Chucha Press and won the Posner Book Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Her second book of poems, Silkie, won the Many Mountains Moving book prize in 2007, and has been selected by the Wisconsin Library Association for Outstanding Achievement recognition in poetry.
A recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and a Wisconsin Arts Board Individual Artist's grant, Cusac was for ten years an editor and investigative reporter for The Progressive magazine. Her investigative reporting there won several awards, including the prestigious George Polk Award. She is a professor in Communication at Roosevelt University and a contributing writer for The Progressive. Her nonfiction book, Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punishment in America, is forthcoming from Yale University Press in Spring 2009.
She flames like a window at evening
her hair the color of late sunset
so low and molten it drips into the water.
I shake myself hard
and follow the coldest current
until I see the mackerel
running for open water,
stomachs fat with the heat they've eaten,
gills streaming light like notched lanterns.
I pound my tail. I catch one
and another, another, another.
I tear into their bodies
until I cramp with belly fire
the color of her hair.