Susan Tepper is the author of eight published books of fiction and poetry. Her most recent book just out in June is a road novel titled “What Drives Men.” Honors and awards include eighteen Pushcart Nominations, a Pulitzer Prize Nomination for the novel “What May Have Been” (Cervena Barva Press, and currently being adapted for the stage), NPR’s Selected Shorts Series, Second Place Winner in Story/South Million Writers Award, Best Story of 17 Years of Vestal Review, Shortlisted 7th in the Zoetrope Novel Contest (2006), Best of the Net and more. Tepper is a native New Yorker.


Danger before and what
lies ahead
between trees
the signage is tricky:
you walk aware of
falling branches
weather out of
the north or west
chokes the narrow trail.
You want to flail
crying out but
an owl at dusk
fills your empty mouth.


What hushes the night
screams are animal piercings

break your skin
a slender rod drawing
blood in lines—

Early spring come the ruts.

Trees stalk, hang idle
across roads—
you try walking—
overhead the cold pulls low.