Invisible Fish by Susan Glassmeyer


Invisible Fish is a poetic chronicle from girlhood to post-middle age by Midwestern author and somatic therapist, Susan F. Glassmeyer. These compelling lyrics and merciful narratives do not shy away from suffering or death, nor from what is poignant and joyful. The whole realm of the visible—the world as it is—is held together by what we cannot see. Because the poems in this full-length collection are grounded in the sensory life of “the body”, they ring true to the reader, inviting mindfulness and evoking curiosity and reverence for what is invisible.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 98
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: April, 2018
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-04-6


The poems in Invisible Fish, Susan Glassmeyer’s first full length volume, are remarkable for both their strength and vulnerability, for their insistence that generosity is a choice always available to us, for their defiant love that takes on all comers. Clear-sighted and tender, Glassmeyer’s poems push past our often self-imposed constraints to befriend beings human or animal in all their awkward striving and unmitigated hope. Daring to approach the mystery of this world not quite knowing what will be found there, these poems gently embolden us to commit our own acts of courage. We are both relieved and astonished to be reminded that the most responsible organ in the human body is not the head but the heart. —Annie Stapleton

We have to take this writer at her word; we have no choice. The integrity in the telling. The consideration of the reader which borders on holy. The elegant and convincing voice. Susan Glassmeyer believes in a world she cannot see—before, during and after life. Poems about the difficult-to-detect, the in-between, the beyond, the forgotten, the dismissed—in the hands of a somatic therapist so in touch with the body and trained to pay utmost attention—keep us grounded so we can take them in. These poems could serve as homilies. They make uncommon sense. —Valerie Chronis Bickett

In her latest work, Invisible Fish, Susan gives form through delicate lyrics and sensitive narratives to the difficult, the beautiful, the unsayable, and even the unimaginable. Her descriptions offer the world as a place to taste and see, an abode of mystery that can be counted on to yield pain, death, wonder, love, and, sometimes, healing. It is through the poetic contours of the positive spaces—things that can be seen and known—that Susan shapes the negative spaces of what cannot be seen or known in this embodied life, but only imagined. There is a mercy here, a gentleness of touch in the depiction of the world as it is that yields a softer vision of it: a place where a thick scar is a strand of pearls; where accidental injury and death yield a still life of wet roses on the pavement; where one can bite the sharp darkness and revolutionize sorrow through the body. One comes away from these intriguing poems with new sight, and isn’t that what poetry is about? —Claudia Skutar

Invisible Fish, Susan Glassmeyer’s first full length collection, is the work of a poet well-versed in what lies beyond sight. Simultaneously, the subject of these exquisite poems is both the process of healing and the knowledge of the core within us which is already and forever whole. “You have to descend from the cloud of knowing / in order for fingers to feel the backbone / of what matters…,” Glassmeyer writes. What matters: a dying dog in the middle of the road  (“I say, Touch her. I say, Don’t be afraid.”); an owl by a public pool, the “soft wild wing of the unexpected”; a woman cradled by her husband to the treatment table, “one branch/of her body a petrified silence”; a mother who, like the moon, “…placed yourself between / us, risking everything // so I might rest in the uncommon/ occurrence of your shadow”; a father whose “… fire lives on in me, banked and burning low,/…, a bonfire of words that / glow on these pages.”  We, her readers, are grateful for the light. —Pauletta Hansel

Filmmaker Federico Fellini was famously quoted: “All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” This collection of poems holds several strands of such pearls, fashioned by an artist whose penetrating insight is matched by superb craft. Susan Glassmeyer’s Invisible Fish is intimate, healing, startlingly honest and unvarnished. Whether delivered as free verse narratives, as prose poems, in categorized lists or clear tight formal structure, intentional language sparks the heart, mind and muscle of the reader. Even after multiple readings, I gasp, cringe, grin or rejoice, swimming with Invisible Fish, knowing how real they are. —Bucky Ignatius


On Old Congress Run Road

A lost Lab running inside her own black shadow,
sideswiped by a car going north on the pike,
then struck by a driver heading south.

I’m an accidental witness on this no-moon night,
busy with my own troubles, like everyone else.
I don’t want to hear the dog’s pinched howl
or her fitful whimpering after she drops
like fallen cargo in the middle of the road.

I want to turn away, but a pressing thought
pulls me over—Don’t be afraid of the suffering.
So I give up, sit down in the street, stopping traffic.
Wrap myself around the furry clock of the dog’s life
as if to stop the stream pouring out of her head.

Not dead, but dying, I tell the onlookers.
I say, Touch her. I say, Don’t be afraid.
A few hands join mine as we follow the rise
and fall of the animal body, the warm belly growing
cooler with each exhalation. Pain appears to be lifting.

Now, under the village lamplight, a stunning
pink foam, almost iridescent, spilling
from dog lungs to dog mouth. Spilling a still life
of wet roses on the dark pavement: blood petals
on our hands, wrists, boots and ankles.

In a slow (call it reverential) movement, Bailey
(her collar says Bailey) arches her spine in an asana
of surrender. Musically sighs. Now dies.


Susan GlassmeyerSusan F. Glassmeyer has been imagining poems since childhood when her Kentucky grandfather explained the language and meaning of train whistles. In a Michigan schoolhouse, a young nun woke her up to the rich world of storytelling. And in Ohio, a wise art teacher taught her how to see. Susan paid attention, took notes, whittled poems out of paragraphs, and along the way came to understand these things are inseparable from the life of her body. Publications include two chapbooks: Body Matters (Pudding House Publications, 2010) and Cook’s Luck (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Individual poems have found homes in these and other journals: Rattle, Naugatuck River Review, Sixfold, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Dunes Review, The GHAZAL Page, Gratefulness.Org, and Ohio Poetry Association anthologies.

Reading thousands of poems and studying the lives and practices of hundreds of poets has been key to Susan’s education. In a decade-long project, she created “April Gifts” for National Poetry Month, sharing with readers her annotated presentations of select poems by 300 poets who have inspired her. Susan is a longtime member of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League. She serves as co-director of the Holistic Health Center of Cincinnati where she works as a somatic therapist and Feldenkrais® practitioner, helping people restore the poetry of presence and movement in their lives and bodies.

Learn more about Susan’s work at:

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in