Sylvia Cavanaugh


Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin.  She currently teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies.  She is the faculty advisor for break dancers and poets.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in An Arial Anthology, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Prairie Review, Peninsula Pulse, Seems, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, Verse Wisconsin, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, is available from Finishing Line Press.

Staring Through My Eyes, 2016, Finishing Line Press (chapbook)


River of Industry

They’ve put motorcycles
in a museum
masculinity’s sacred
fire of freedom
clamped down to racks
carried in on wheeled trucks
past factory frames
slatted ribs to protect thin air

human fingers can weave through diamonds
chains link together
form double-crossed views as
dollars flee
fenced-out or
just fenced

last summer they brought in Elvis’
first motorcycle
we turned our darkened faces to the light

only the truly miserable
seem not to notice
when things get worse
this river never danced in
spectacle of flame
just a throbbing clotted tide
run dim
long live the King

First published in Verse Wisconsin

Hot Flash

To forge weapons
with fire
is a sign that we are civilized
but the taste of knowledge
had its price
dealt in a currency
of fertility
in calendar clicks of counted days
a real blood bargain
paid periodically
paid in labor pains and
in pre-menstrual syndromes

but now I wield
my own damned fire
to cauterize the wound
the first sin settled up
my womb
now sweated caustic clean
Adam’s bones are mine
and he is scorched
turning on these embers
he re-arranges and adjusts
looks at me
across his stiff
cold shoulder
and wink

First published in Red Cedar Review