“Baby Sun Rose” and Other Poems by S. Lise

Originally from Texas, Shannon Lise spent twelve years in Turkey and is currently located in Québec City, where she is pursuing her doctorate in clinical psychology. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee and her début poetry collection is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. You can connect with her at shannonlise.com.

Artwork by Michael Reginald Pitter


My cat is tired of being an indoor cat. Each morning
I let him out the side door into the snow and wonder
if he will come back. I grow baby sun rose in a big
glass globe, try hard not to kill it. I am tired of all my
windows facing north. There are places that stick
to us so close we can’t outrun them. I write with my
eyes closed and dream with the lungs of the world.
I want to see my baby girl but I’m scared there’s no
story to give her. Will someone show me how to grow
a lemon tree? One year later I am still running and the
baby sun rose hasn’t gotten any bigger and the dust
I kick up in the sacred face of life is like the buzz in the
laptop speakers when the music is too loud but we don’t
care because no one has promised us tomorrow. I am
tired of trying to be an indoor tree. I wanted to give you
sour oranges and places for dancing and the guava
sweet glow at the heart of the sea. Now my shadow
in the garden knocks me straight to the ground. All my
gifts are bridges of black ice bringing you to grief. 


Here’s to all the gospels of the good
world we’re going to make – neglecting
the question of death and days after –
and here’s to a hundred headless kings
who promised as much and who reek
to heaven, rotten bones and manifestos
mortared with bad dreams and blood
on the bathroom tiles.

One day you come to know
you’ll never sleep through the night.
One day after years of vinyasas, white noise machines
and picture perfect wedding anniversaries,
you stop trying.

Let me go down to the dark, unhealed
and unwhole. Let me dream of waking
to white shores where the surf breaks
on pale gems, where the west wind moves
like a lover on the breast of the waves and
the leaves are made of uncreated light.

Maybe you’ll find Valimar.
Maybe even you.


and having known that sunlit hour
as it passed

and having watched our bodies
slide to gold

through autumn shadows
purpling the world

we whisper thank you to
whatever comes

we knit our fingers
through the crumbling foam

and turn as one
to face the whirling dark


I have gone alone with my body, with the slag
of it that remains, to hear the song of the desert
and to die of the wonder-pain

The corners of life called out to me, the windows
and the graves, the humming of the rosehips
and the houses of the saints

I kept two things – the rolling thrill of thunder
in the hair, together with the smell of grass
that wipes away despair

But now I have put aside confusion and regret –
I wrapped my lies in a wedding dress
and dropped them into the sea.


The best way to stop
taking glowing snowfalls

and good sex and
the Wexford carol

for granted
is to learn to be afraid.

Have somebody tell you
over the phone
that your best friend killed herself.

Dream each night of losing your lover
in a dozen different ways
to the unfathomable ruthlessness of love.

Panic every time you take the wheel
in helpless solidarity
with everyone it’s already killed.

Stand up on a sliver of conviction
only to look out on
a world full of women without voices.

Crash up against the screaming limits
of the body and learn
to keep a bottle of morphine in the glovebox.

Wonder, every time you check on your sleeping
newborn, if when you touch her
body there will be no rise and fall of breath.

Hold her and wonder how many different
ways the world will hurt her.

Stand with your soul on the edge
of the dark and shudder.

Then look back at the
Christmas wreaths in the window –
all the fragile and improbable
things that hold the light.

From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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In Parentheses Magazine (Volume 7, Issue 3) Winter 2022

By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7

32 pages, published 1/15/2022

The Winter 2022 issue of In Parentheses Literary Magazine. Published by In Parentheses (Volume 7, Issue32)
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