I’m honored that editor Brian Geiger of Vita Brevis has republished my poem “Bone Music” as an editor’s choice selection.
An editor said never start a poem at a window,
so instead I’m looking at the door,
which is made of glass. We are to avoid rain,
too, but it streaks the pane in such delicious
patterns that I can’t help but pretend to be someone else
in a foreign city, perhaps Helsinki, sipping black coffee
with a mysterious woman younger than my daughter
(who also does not exist), whose interests
in me are purely literary, although she straightens
my collar with lingering, scented fingers. Garden
memories and birds must never populate our lines,
but corpses are fine, as are tube tops and bananas
and any combination thereof. I finish my coffee
and wander alone through cobblestone streets,
stepping over clichés when possible, kicking them
aside when my hip joint argues, or simply accepting
their useful limitations when nothing else works.
Unknown and lacking credentials, I shrug, go on
past the closed doors behind which unseen bodies
perform the most bizarre and sensual solo dances,
or not, and shadows cook sausages over fire
and the grease spattering onto the tiled counters
issues a fragrance that awakens neighborhood dogs
and maybe a dozing stall-keeper at the market
where cloudberries are sometimes found.
I know little of Finland, and less of myself,
and then there’s poetry, which remains a blank
frame, a frosted pane I’ll never truly unlatch.
* * *
My poem “Helsinki” was first published at Panoply. It was inspired in part by a Facebook thread on which editors commented on what caused them to instantly reject poems. One said beginning a poem at a window was cause for rejection. Hence the first line.
My poem “The Bitter Celebrates” is live at Amethyst Review. Thank you, Sarah Law, for taking this piece.
Read Lily Blackburn’s insightful review of Stephanie L. Harper’s This Being Done.
This Being Done by Stephanie L. Harper
What happens when we read time into everything? History, mythology, the aging of the earth, all in the span of a glimpse, a moment? In This Being Done, time echoes ancient. Thematically, I wondered if ideas for many of these poems were inspired by “How to Take An Amazing Photo of A Solar Eclipse,” being a witness to growth as a parent whose child is diagnosed with autism: “Trust in his gift of seeing every moment in terms of geological time—/ of constantly holding the cycles of mountains/ rising up and eroding away in his mind’s eye… ” From elegy to epitaph, the threads that weave this book together are perspectives on motherhood and femininity seen through both a modern and mythologic lens; in place of sentiment or a conclusion we are given a raging dragon. Harper places the reader in a space…
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I’m honored and delighted to report that my poem “Other” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editors of Bold + Italic. The writing is everything, but it’s nice to know that someone out there in the world has responded to a piece. And as it turns out, my friend Kristine Brown was also nominated by Bold + Italic. Be sure to read her poem, too!
I built a frame of apricot
wood. This was for you. The clouds float
through it even as I sleep. You wrote
once of wild herbs gathered and brought
to a lovely girl, an offering not
of passion but of some remote
desire to hear a word from the throat
of the Lord Within Clouds. I thought
of this as I chiseled the wood.
Last night it rained. I listened to
it from my bed by the open
window, hoping that the clouds would
not leave. This morning two birds flew
by. It is raining again.
What Feet Know
The earth and its subterfuge.
Gravity and the points between here and there.
And sometimes the rasp of grainy mud
clenched between toes,
or a rock under the arch,
an explanation too pointed
for display on a page,
too hard, too much for flesh to bear.
No constellations foment underground.
Nothing there orbits a companion.
No light but for that darkness the heel scrapes away.