Publication Date:  June 1, 2020
Paperback, 96 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-66-3

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$22.50 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Susana H. Case is the author of seven books of
Drugstore Blue, from Five Oaks Press, won
an Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY). She is
also the author of five chapbooks, two of which won
poetry prizes. Her most recent chapbook is
Falling, Sunday Morning
from Milk and Cake Press.
One of her collections,
The Scottish Café, from
Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-
language English-Polish version,
Kawiarnia Szkocka
by Opole University Press in Poland. Her poems
appear widely in magazines and anthologies. Recent
poems can be found in:
Calyx, The Cortland Review,
Fourteen Hills, Portland Review, Potomac Review,  
Rattle, and RHINO, among others. Dr. Case is a
Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York
Institute of Technology in New York City.
The middle section of this new poetry collection from Susana H. Case consists of
ekphrastic poems inspired by the crime scene dioramas of Frances Glessner Lee, the
“mother of forensic science.”  How appropriate, for this entire collection is an
exercise in forensics, as Case deploys her poetic powers of detection to investigate
and interrogate life in its minutest details; and all too often she too is depicting acts of
violence, committed against women, against migrants, against the marginalized.  Early
on she questions the “puzzling utility” of her “street light eyes,” but those eyes miss
nothing, and it seems as well that she has missed no opportunity to learn from what
they have seen, whether it is recognizing that “everything was happening” even while
it seemed to her adolescent self that “nothing  nothing  nothing happened,” or taking
from an encounter with a baby skunk in a tent the lesson “Don’t move. / Don’t make
a sound.”

Fortunately that silence yields profound words here, as in the title poem where a
quintessentially quirky New York City experience of, quite literally, a dead shark in a
subway car provides an occasion for meditation on death and destinations, what we
see and what we don’t, and how long we can journey to end up not so far from where
we began.  “Remind me none of this will kill me,” she writes in one poem – except
sometimes it can, and does, and she does not flinch from putting even the “shriveled
flesh” of a dying friend into her poetry.  If this sounds grim, it can be, but the sure
touch and precision of Case’s language elevates her work from any sense of morbid
voyeurism.  Nor does she spare herself from this examination, as in the closing poem
where she grapples with her own physical fragility and the limits of language to
express it.

Recalling how she came to say “icebox” for refrigerator from her mother, she
remembers a time she “did not have the vocabulary,” and how since then she learned
“Words deceive, the way love is often inarticulate.”  Case is certainly not the first
poet to distrust language, the tools of her craft, nor the first to wonder about who is
listening, “you people, / you whom I don’t even write for.”  Those of us who are
listening, for whom she is writing even when she is not sure herself, are fortunate
indeed to receive these poems.  It is perhaps an outrageous pun to call this a “Case
report,” but as an account of her poetic forensics it is an essential document of our

Praise for Susana H. Case & Dead Shark on the N Train

Susana H. Case is a poet at the peak of her craft. Her previous books and chapbooks
have each depicted with skill her artistic obsessions—ruthlessness of time, the
juxtaposition between one’s public persona and the self, injustices of society, and all
the small or enormous acts of violence towards women and girls—with intelligence,
empathy, and unsentimental precision. The poems in this collection sing even louder
with these truths. In the second poem of the book, she writes, “I know/ that to be my
own salvation,/ I have to get down from the mountain/ before dark.”
Dead Shark on
the N Train
takes us from Queens to destinations beyond, as she contemplates Marilyn
Monroe, Maria Callas, school shootings, an estranged friend dying of cancer, and the
unforgettable crime scene dioramas of Glessner Lee. What results is a fugue of
contemporary American chaos in all its beauty and brutality. I learn a lot from reading
Case’s poetry. Above all,
Dead Shark implores us to each be our own salvation.
                    —Jennifer Franklin, author of
No Small Gift (Four Way Books)

In this sassy, gorgeous book, Susana H. Case takes us on one helluva ride with a dead
shark as fellow passenger, brought in from the beach and left on the floor of the N
Train, its jaw decorated with a Metro Card, a cigarette and a can of Red Bull. The
shark is just one of the stars of Case’s seventh volume of poems. Consider, as well,
“Radiance,” a scorcher of a poem about a breast: “Lie with me, lie to me,/ until your
tongue burns.”  If you haven’t met up with Case’s work, it’s time you did. Detective,
adventurer, world traveler, professor, connoisseur of cities, of love and mystery: there
is poetry here you’ve never encountered before. In one section, Case raids the minute
details of crime-scene dioramas created midcentury by the late Frances Glessner Lee.
In Case’s lyrics, they are studies in mayhem, murder, and blood. Who would have
guessed that these two artists would give us such a long distance, magical, and utterly
original collaboration?
                    —David Tucker, author of
Late for Work (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Susana H. Case is turning into a seasoned private eye, observing lives as she leaves
Queens to live across the river, but within eyeshot of her roots and the lessons of
adolescence. She travels to distant geographies—the Indian subcontinent, South
America, Europe—returning to paint indelible, sardonic portraits of humans and their
foibles. She writes with a realist painter’s attention to gesture and tic. The truths Case
reveals about bondage and freedom are as compelling as the sight of a dead shark
riding the N train. A victory of sorts, the dead shark. The poet is writing her most
energetic, and clearly sketched, poems in this, her strongest volume to date.
                    —Indran Amirthanayagam, author of
Coconuts on Mars (Paperwall)
on the
N Train
Poems by
Susana H.
author photo: Chris Berlino