Featured Poems: S Stephanie

Photo by Alex Holyoake, Unsplash.com

S Stephanie’s poetry, fiction and book reviews have appeared in many literary magazines, including Birmingham Poetry Review, The Café Review, Cease, Cows, Rattle, St. Petersburg Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Southern Review, The Sun, Third Coast, and Wickford Art Association. Her three chapbooks are Throat (Igneus Press), What the News Seemed to Say (Pudding House, re-released by Igneus Press in 2015), and So This Is What It Has Come To (2015 Finishing Line Press). She holds an MFA in Writing (Poetry) from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She lives in Rollinsford, NH, and teaches creative writing on the college and community level. She is a juried Teaching Artist on both the NH State Council of the Arts Education Roster and Health Care Education Roster. You can visit her website at http://sstephanie.com/


Family History

Years ago or yesterday
earlier than that, once
upon a time

all those details
led through a forest
or was it a cabin

she had a wart
no he had a cane
they died or divorced

her shoes were lost
no his acorns were stolen
they threw the baby out

it returned
forgave them
with a vengeance

he climbed a tower of hair
she danced dishes around dwarfs
but they kissed

everybody always kisses


Ghazal For The Man At The Next Table Who Looks Like He’s Praying

The sad trees miss the color filled feathers of parrots
The green moss beneath morns the real wisdom of parrots

Oil is tugged at, pulled up, out of earth, tossed to the sky
It saturates all, smells like the tongues of dead parrots

At night border refugees huddle against wire, pray
But their prayers land on the invisible ears of parrots

Our sick trade their medicines for food, a little light
When our sick die, no one wins, not even rich parrots

The man at the next table looks like he’s praying, as if
Our country has fallen into the beaks of dead birds


I don’t often dream of Johnny Depp

but images of the instinctual work of crows
building a nest each year, only to have it
stolen by the cuckoo or another
brood parasite, these are what woke me
this morning. These and images of all
those idiosyncratic personalities
Depp must become for each new
blockbuster season.
I think I woke because, well
who among us hasn’t fallen
into our own Cheshire smile
or sunk into an ocean of ghosts
of our own making. In the dream
I think we were hurling sticks
at ourselves. Nothing was really
stolen. I think the clips of identity
we were caught up in, and the ones
we took of ourselves, were reeling
frame by frame in the slowest of motion
back there in the dark, while
we were the transfixed audience
watching. Yes, there we are
that’s us! The ones in the last row
with our hands over our eyes.


Widow’s Fugue
(inspired by Sylvia Plath’s “Little Fugue”)

What do I know of fugues
or yew trees for that matter?
I live East, in a house of brick

and watch the solid maples
drop red leaves without spilling
blood year after year in this place

I call home. I watch clouds
from the kitchen sink and read
their daily messages about water

and dry hours. I talk to my dead.
Yes, I remember their fingers
they tap to no song now.

But sometimes I catch their voices
talking to another woman
who must have at some point been me.