My new chapbook is now available!

Stephanie L. Harper’s THIS BEING DONE is now available for pre-publication order! I have ordered multiple copies because I know I’ll want to give copies to friends. It’s that good.

SLHARPERPOETRY

It’s officially official! My debut poetry collection, This Being Done, is now available for prepublication order! RESERVE YOUR COPYHERE:Finishing Line Press!

Beesiness As Usual_Matthew Harper

Thank you to my son, Matthew Harper, for contributing his gorgeous photograph, “Beesiness as Usual” for use on the cover of THIS BEING DONE. According to the timeline I received from Finishing Line Press, the graphic designer should have my cover design completed sometime this week! I’ll be sharing it here as soon as it’s ready!

I’m so grateful to my WordPress Poetry Posse for your interest in, enthusiasm for, and support of my work! I can’t emphasize enough the difference you make in my life as a poet, artist, and human being, in general.

I must also give a shout-out to poet and human extraordinaire, Robert Okaji, whose guidance has been instrumental in this venture. Thank you, Bob, for sharing your many talents with our community…

View original post 18 more words

Ritual

image

Ritual

Placing the dead is seldom arbitrary.
The Marquis de Sade’s grave in the forest at Malmaison
was planted with acorns so that he might be consumed by
trees, but my wife desires a shady plot in rural Texas,
where no one will claim her. In old Christian
graveyards the unclean were buried at the gospel side for
sinners. When her best friend died, she and his former lover
split a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and listened to Puccini.
The Nuer of Sudan place deformed dead babies by the river,
returning them to their true fathers, the hippos. After the fog
crushed Stevie Ray’s helicopter, I played Texas Flood on the juke
box and quit my job. In China, bones channel feng shui, becoming
part of the active landscape. Though she wanted her ashes to drift
in the Pacific, my mother’s body lies in a national cemetery in
San Antonio. On the northwest coast of Canada, the Kwakiutl
left their dead to the ravens, and my father has proposed
on numerous occasions that we shove a hambone up his ass
and let the dogs drag him off. I do not believe we’ll follow his
suggestion. In old England, suicides were often interred at
crossroads, impaled, to impede their restless wandering spirits.
The Torajans sometimes keep bodies wrapped in layers of absorbent
cloth in their homes for years. I’d like my incinerated, pulverized
remains released in the jet stream, if only to escape economy class for
once. Jellyroll Morton’s grave is in Section N, Lot 347, #4, in the northwest
quadrant of Calvary Cemetery, but some villagers bury stillborn
near a dwelling’s outer wall. Hugh Hefner is rumored to have acquired
the spot next to Marilyn Monroe. Custom in protocol, repetition.

* * *

Originally published in Middle Gray in 2013, “Ritual” was reprinted in the anthology Heron Clan IIIand is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks. It also appeared here in July 2015 and October 2016 – the poem that refuses to die…

For those who might be interested, a glimpse at the genesis of the poem is included in this interview conducted by Dariel Suarez, the editor of Middle Gray: http://www.themiddlegray.com/mgblog/2013/12/19/robert-okaji

image

Thirty-Five Years Later, I Raise My Hand

Thirty-Five Years Later, I Raise My Hand

In spring 1983 I enrolled in a poetry writing course thinking it might help improve my short fiction. I was a history major by default, had never taken a course in poetry, but believed, with absolutely no evidence, that I could write fiction. At the time I would have been hard-pressed to name five contemporary poets, even counting my professor. To be honest, the class struggled to hold my attention. Only about a quarter of the students seemed interested in writing, and the instructor was a bit, uh, tired. But for the first time in my life I read, really read, poetry. I fell in love with Galway Kinnell, Ai, James Wright and Carolyn Forche, to name just a few of my early enthusiasms. I wanted to write like them. So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Most of it was laughably bad, but somehow I managed to win an undergraduate poetry contest, which suggested that hope existed. Maybe someday, I thought, one of my poems will be published. This radical idea had never occurred to me before. Publication seemed to be the privilege of special people, and a lifetime of gathered fact revealed that I was unequivocably nothing special.

Early on in the semester, perhaps even in the first class, the professor asked how many of us thought we’d still be writing poetry in twenty years. I didn’t raise my hand. I didn’t know where I’d be in six months, much less what I’d be doing in twenty years. Since I’d realized late in the game that teaching was not for me, I had no job prospects, and few marketable skills, despite experience in chugging beer, manning sound-powered phones on a ship’s helicopter tower, scraping barnacles and bending rules. The world was limited. The world was limitless.

Another gray day

dividing the old and young

Oh, this aching hip!

A song from that time:

The Language of Birds

file9701246705681

The Language of Birds
(for Lydia)

Something thrown beyond
light: a stone,

words. The language of birds
evades us but for the simplest

measure. And how can we comprehend
those who live with the

wind when our own
bodies seem far away? In the darkness
certain sounds come clearer, as if in

absence one finds strength, the evidence
gathered with every breath. Speech is,
of course, not the answer. We release

what we must, and in turn are released.

* * *

This first appeared on the blog in April 2015 – another oldie dug out of a folder. I wrote it for my niece perhaps twenty-eight years ago, and don’t believe it was ever published. It felt good to finally release it to the light and air.

file5221263776043

Vent Ahead, Read With Caution

Heather Curran, teacher extraordinaire, tells us why she’s not taking a gun to school.

Poetry, journals, vents, and musings of a distracted woman

I went into teaching because I am relatively non-confrontational.  Now, talk to my brother and he’ll tell  you that I started everything when we were children.  That’s probably correct.  I can’t remember.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m not a kid anymore.

I’m an almost 46 year-old woman with two biological children and at least a hundred adopted.  I believe in compassion and goodness.  I believe in random acts of kindness.  I believe in saying my mind when I see something or someone beautiful.  I know that this might be weird.  But if I see a beautiful person, I am going to say something.  We live in a world saturated with unkindess, or at least we could.  But not on my watch.  Not in my corner.

I just finished teaching the Holocaust.  I made a point of talking about people who chose compassion and goodness over atrocity and evil.  My biggest regret right…

View original post 749 more words

Aubade (Inca Dove)

file0002005846098

Aubade (Inca Dove)

Such delicacy
evokes the evolution of hand
and wing, a growth

reflecting all we’ve come
to know. Two doves

sit on the fence, cold wind ruffling
their feathers. What brings them
to this place of no

shelter, of wind and rain
and clarity defied? Fingers

often remember what the mind
cannot. Silence
complicates our mornings.

This last appeared here in October 2016, and was originally published in The Balcones Review in 1987. Seems I was enthralled with birds back then, too…

FenceDrama1

Shadow Charm

Shadow Charm

When you place your mouth
to my ear

how does the ocean know
which wave

to relinquish?
In your darkness I find teeth.

Blessings of the meek-throated.

A ribbed tunnel. Codicil.

Your tongue scrawls: too late,
the unsaid     nerve-sparked and

dilated     too late

And my skin replies: with
lightning     all strikes

count     to each its charge

“Shadow Charm” was published in August 2017 in The Icarus Anthology.