that grace comes only by way of a primordial breath, you know it to be no less manifest for its taking of alternate routes, as surely it finds you by the grasping- of-a-Bic no. 2-mechanical-pencil way;
by the miraculous- proximity-of-your-notebook- with-Munch’s-iconic-Scream- embossed-in-gold-on-the-cover- to-your-waiting-for-this-morning’s- nine-grained-slice-to-toast way;
as well as the letting- your-hand-drag-a-wake- of-coffee-stains-across the pages- because-you-opt-today- to-imbibe-your-reflux-inducing-libation- over-not-doing-so’s-throbbing-promise- of-a-4:00-pm-migraine way;
not to mention the way you habitually open the blinds to another barely-lit dawn that grants you a glimpse of a northern flicker scrabbling for purchase on the finch feeder in a flapping blaze of belly, feathers & beaked seeds flung in ceremonious presumption of some nearby female’s interest;
or the way you finally take a breath—
which you need to take before your face re-stones itself in the memory of those children who were murdered in yesterday’s mass shooting in a Texas elementary school*,
for how else can you still hope?—
which delivers you to the way your twelve-year-old red heeler recruits what measure of her brown-eyed vigilance she can still muster to shepherd this whole bed-headed-faux-cheetah-printed- heartsick-kitchen-calamity of you past the counter-top-mounds of clutter, through a shadowed valley’s ice age & back to the light of a green pasture beside still water
in the beginning
when the Word was God
& the light in you was the way.
STEPHANIE L. HARPER
*Updated from the 2017 version: “yesterday’s mass shooting / in a Texas church”
“Though it is Written” first appeared in The Winnow Magazine in November 2019.
My new crown of Covid-19 sonnets,A Crown Most Unroyal,is today’s poetry feature atVox Populi.I’m deeply grateful to Editor Michael Simms for his enthusiasm, support, and vision in brilliantly pairing my poems with Thom Hartmann’s essay on the“GOP death cult”and enhancing the “legitimacy” of our contributions to the “political discourse.”
I wish you all safety, sanity, and every possibility for joy as we continue to plod through…
You may have recently heard about the Spectrum 10K study and have seen autistic people’s, and non-autistic people’s, concerns about the study.Though I have plenty to say regarding this study, that’s not what I want to talk about right now.
What I want to talk about is the lasting effects that occur when autistic people are used as a commodity, a political football, a theoretical argument, as exploitation, when autistic people have to witness the dehumanization and legal torture of autistic people.
A study like Spectrum 10K brings out non-autistic people – parents of autistic people, teachers of autistic students, and many disability-adjacent “professionals” – who genuinely think it would be better if they aborted autistic fetuses in the future so that they didn’t “suffer.”
Although these interactions are upsetting, the worst part is when being autistic is used…
My poems, “Missive (to the White Oak’s Depths)” and “Elegy for My Former Self,” are live in the July 2021 issue ofCathexis Northwest Press.Heartfelt thanks to editor C. M. Tollefson for selecting these pieces.
Please also enjoy the audio renditions of these poems, courtesy of—your favorite poet and mine—the one and onlyRobert Okaji!
Another death hoax? Gee, how original… You folks ain’t fickle—guess I’ll give ya points fer grit if not fer gumption. I’ve rolled joints my friends, far stiffer than my tricky ankle, imbibed red wine that’s older than yer gran’; this here bandana holds more DNA than most small countries on a holiday, so keep your Internet! Just leave the bedpan close, gas up the bus, & brace for twenty more long years—well, give or take a decade. The road’s a callin’, songs are in my head, & my ol’ guitar plays as good as any; there’s plenty weed to smoke & hair to braid: So’s far as I can tell, I’m still not dead.
In celebration of World Poetry Day, I offer the following “syntactic echo” of the ineffably ingenious innovator of American Poetry, Walt Whitman. This poetic exercise was the brainchild of one Alessandra Lynch (i.e., I’m not entirely to blame…), instructor/facilitator of my spring 2021 Poetry Workshop in the Butler University MFA Program.
Of These and All
“And of these one and all I weave the song of myself” ~ Walt Whitman, Song of myself 15
The left flesh-melon harbors a pool of sweat, the right flesh-melon harbors a pool of sweat, The perimenopausal woman hot-flashes in the kitchen, the bemused son dons wool slippers in the kitchen, The second husband purchases electric socks for his perimenopausal wife and the ex-husband dissociates further from his ex-wife; And these stoke my hankerings for donuts, and I make do with home-baked banana-nut muffins, And such as it is to amass five decades of knowledge, minus where I last left my phone, more or less I am in fact speaking on it, And of these hot flashes, cantankerous joints, suddenly-uncloseable pants and all I justify the lament of my middle-age…