Bone Antler Stone by Tim Miller, a review

Daniel Paul Marshall’s review of the poetry book, *Bone Antler Stone*, by Tim Miller. Marshall’s celebratory and contemplative response to Miller’s poetic accomplishment is a work of poetry in its own right — it is an earnest “giving” in the interest of promoting human connection. As a poet, I can’t imagine a more moving or rewarding experience than receiving such a “gift” as this in response to my own work; and as someone who’s had the great fortune of reading *Bone Antler Stone*, I must say that I concur with DPM’s analysis and praise.

Daniel Paul Marshall

I’m aware this “review” could potentially end up as flat out extolment for a poet who has become my friend and whose poems I was fortunate enough to have read in their early drafts. Am I biased? Probably. But I am going to make an effort to evidence what makes this a worthy read. There is plenty to evidence and I hope in tandem with my personal praise, this review will not be exposed as a sycophantic exposition.

Tim Miller’s Bone Antler Stone (The High Window Press) begins, ablaze, with the poem Fire Houses. What seems to have been an ancient procedure of renewal (Tim’s query in Fire Houses II later on: “Why would they do this to their houses/every generation of so…?” for me, supports this, in a whole poem dedicated to the question) seems to be Tim’s symbolic way of nudging us toward a spirit of…

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7 Poems Up at Underfoot Poetry!

White-throated_Sparrow_Audubon

I’d like to express my gratitude to Tim Miller for hosting my quirky (some might say, “Harperesque”) poems (along with 2 collaborations with the one and only Robert Okaji!) at his fabulous blog, Underfoot Poetry (<< read them here); to editor Daniel Paul Marshall for his professionalism and the distinct pleasure it has been working with him and getting to know him and his work; and last but not least, to Robert Okaji, for his friendship, mentorship, collaboration, humor and sensitivity, and all-around beautiful, generous soul.

Tribute

boulder-stream
Tribute

No muse     per se     whispers
infusions into my burning ear
not that it would be in my nature

to entice some demigoddess to swell
with lust     hover about my head
& grace me with facility in the arts

such that I might woo hearts into believing
in my sanctity (as if I’d ever assent
to some covetous little bitch’s attempts

to trademark my own     voluptuous
intellect with her dousings of silvery
moonbeams & purple pixie dust)

which isn’t to say that no one ever garners my tribute
No     of course not     for there’s always been a certain monsieur: 
Arnos     namesake of the Neoliths’ river     to move     to flow

mounting pulse    to culminating flutter
his flux of rapture & cruelty
rising like a god in me

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Italy-Rome-Tiber-River-God-Sculpture

“Tribute” was published in the Fall 2017 edition of Harbinger Asylum. Thank you to editor Dustin Pickering and guest-editor Z. M. Wise for selecting this piece.

 

Miracle

Thank you, Lynne Burnette, for the way your “Miracle” has nourished my heart today.

Lynne Burnett

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Is it a miracle
that I found the worm in time—
having gone into my den much earlier
than usual, to turn the computer on—
and saw the dark, exhausted thread of its
body lying in the middle of a desert
of beige carpet, picked it up, barely moist, and
laid it outside on the wet grass, and watched
until it finally waved goodbye at one end,
easing itself into the darkness it knows?

Or is the miracle
that the annelid slid
through sealed doors and windows
to get inside my house in the first place,
that it became a finger pointing
from the Buddha’s hand,
laying at my feet its five paired hearts
and the power of intervention—
of life continued
or of death without comment?

Is there a day without its miracle,
for doesn’t one follow the other
because of a vast accordion of worms
playing now the…

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Review of Stephanie L. Harper’s Chapbook, “This Being Done”

I’m so pleased and proud to share this terrific review of THIS BEING DONE in Panoply! Many thanks to editor Jeff Santosuosso for his professional excellence and staunch support, and to Andrea Walker for her insightful engagement with and praise for my poems!

panoply, a literary zine

Harper_Stephanie_COV Photo by Matthew Harper

Published by Finishing Line Press
ISBN 978-1-63534-551-3 (anticipated)
31 pages

The book is available for order via https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/this-being-done-by-stephanie-l-harper/  (cover price is $14.99), and is scheduled to ship on (or about) July 13, at which time it will also be available through Ingram Book Group (i.e., Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

Review submitted by Andrea Walker
June 2018

When I finished my first reading of Stephanie L. Harper’s chapbook This Being Done, I exhaled and thought this is amazing. I enjoyed the seventeen poems for their imaginative language, the insight into self and others they offer, and their expression of wonder and pain. Although each poem is different in style and subject matter, threads run throughout, introduced in one poem, then surprising the reader by showing up in another seemingly unrelated poem.

Harper’s opening poem “How to Be a Malacologist” echoes of Ann Sexton’s “Courage.” “Remember when your…

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What a Patriot Dreams

Desert Flags2
What a Patriot Dreams

 

I saw the flags come down—
in a scene that scrolled in slo-mo,
& from multiple vantages—
their masts falling like the trees
flattened by shockwaves
in those clips of old footage
from military nuclear bomb tests,
spliced into documentaries
for high school history classes;

except, my dream version’s vivid images
weren’t the projected celluloid etchings
that teenagers confined to plastic chairs
could summarily cancel from sight
with one hand motioning No
in the universal vernacular.

From a sweeping arc of floodlights
that rendered the indigo skyline
of an early-summer dusk starless,
the flags all vanished at once—
their wingless, red-white-blue heaps
crushing in on themselves, darkening,
& dropping like torn parachutes.

Sleep’s last claim on my consciousness
was that horizon of empty haloes
the mass plummet had left behind,
before my eyes fluttered open
to this morning’s first, grainy insinuations
that breached the blinds’ periphery,
& accreted into a single, silent force
creeping along my bedroom walls,
as if it could somehow thwart illumination
of my most preposterous, waking truth:

that in this country of my own
birth & citizenship, I’ve, in turn,
given birth to two, precious children—

my riven heart’s two halves now trussed
in a spectacular fiasco of feathers & wax.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

I wrote this poem a little over a week ago upon waking—or, rather, not having the luxury of waking—from the nightmare of our country succumbing before our eyes to a fascist coup. I don’t generally post such new, raw work, but there seemed to be little sense in waiting with this one.   

There is This

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There is This

Portland, OR: May 27, 2017

            
On a trellis erected between
my west suburb neighborhood
& the nearest MAX station
the wisteria vines burgeon
overhead in a dusky-purple
cascade like a dessert wine
but yesterday     while I was
out walking as the early evening
heat broke     I noticed a sallow carpet
of petals    fallen
in their waning since just
the previous day     was now
ensconcing the concrete     & already
bearing the heavy imprints—illumined
by the sun’s oblique indifference—
of commuters’ footfalls
& the tell-tale     parallel furrows
of hipsters on skateboards

I saw black sugar ants scavenging
the secretions of the barely-dead
& felt a sour twist of grief
over that chapter unfolding underfoot
of the inevitability I understand
to be inherent in all that is
as dictated by the rule of reason
which     in turn     instructs
the Hawkmoth’s impassioned
twilit plummets into a streetlamp’s halo—
the Death’s-Head’s testament to the light
by which darkness must be defined

I’ll admit to being fickle—a variable
ally of predators & prey alike—
as I’m no less liable to marvel
at the grit of a barn cat stalking a fat vole
(& then to cheer at the rodent’s brief death-throes squeak!)
than I am to release a breathless prayer into the wind
for a crab scuttling frantically ocean-ward
in the shadow of a whimbrel

Steely prudence requires
our acceptance of tragic ends for some
as they are said to ensure the greater
endurance of the whole     & all of us know—
having learned since earliest childhood
some version of the proverbial
to every thing there is a season    
& a time to every purpose under heaven—
that the sun’s descent into the Pacific
beckons the moon’s rise to its vigil
that the ardent frog’s first chirps at dusk
will ring into a night of river-song
& that the raccoons’ kits will always
endure December’s snowfalls
cloistered in their hollows

But the lesson yesterday scrawled
on a sick-sweet banner of dying
wisteria     unfurled over a city
I no longer recognize
is a new     black codicil
rained down from the heavens
in which teenage girls are menaced
& the throats of their intercessors are slashed
during rush hour on a train

There is no season
no time           
& no poem      to assuage
such unnatural waning

There is only this
futile transit of hours
to successive hours—

this exodus
of blood from its native heart

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

MAX memorial

It’s been one year and one day since Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best were murdered, and Micah Fletcher narrowly escaped with his life, on a MAX train in Portland, Oregon.  Let Memorial Day be a day to revere their heroic stand against the vile inhumanity of racially-motivated hatred; and let us every day be a heart that remembers and strives to be worthy of their precious sacrifice.

“There is This” was first drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge, as I was grappling with my initial shock and grief upon first learning of this tragedy. It was subsequently published in the Fall 2017 edition of Harbinger Asylum, edited by Z. M. Wise.

A New Poem Up at BONED!

I’m thrilled to share the news that my poem, “Rhapsody in Bone” — a bit of formal verse for the 21st century… — is featured at the wonderful web journal, BONED! I’m grateful to editor Nate Ragolia for giving my quirky piece inspired by an ancient Inuit myth such a lovely and fitting home.

“Rhapsody in Bone” appears in my new chapbook, This Being Done, available now from Finishing Line Press. Orders will ship in June 2018.

Prologue to My Birth

bee-and-rosette-artemis-statue-close-up-crop-249x300
Prologue to My Birth

This is neither a beginning
nor the prophecy of an ending
for beginnings & endings are lies
told to the once-living

it is not the exemplifying
of the aberrations the alchemists made
when they dethroned our Divine Queen
& transmuted her golden honey
into their iron pyrite philosophy
that left us to wither
inside our stunned husks

& so     this is the emptying
of our errant devotion
to the denial of bodily hunger

the sanctified unbelieving
in fairytales of heavenly salvation

& it is the vital refilling
of infants’ gaping mouths
with earthly fortitude

& here     now     is the weeping

for our birth-story     interred
with our long-dead mothers
who delivered us
& secured our velvety     aboriginal flesh
to their warm breasts—

the saline unleashing
to purify our Logos
our will to creation     our innate need
to manifest our god-selves

it is the recovering
of the Life that was severed from our psyches
when it was reduced to a Word
& uttered     bereft of melody—

the unrepressed singing
Artemis awake from her slumber
beneath her ruined Temple in Ephesus

at last     this is the extricating
of shame that made our tongues
untie us from our Mother’s holy earth
& swayed our ears to scorn her winged songs
even as she kept flying back to us
ever thick-limbed & fragrant
with nourishment from lavender blooms
solely that we should swell in our birthing cells
gorged on her royal jelly

This poem is my body
embryonic     translucent
distended with new hope

it is my luminous     black eyes
grown huge with their memory
of who I am

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

I’m thinking a lot today about the Divine Mother’s tireless devotion to her children. Happy Mother’s Day!

“Prologue to My Birth” was published in the collection,  International Poetry Month 2017, curated by Bonnie McClellan, and appears in my chapbook, This Being Done, available now for order from Finishing Line Press, scheduled to ship in June 2018.