My poem, “Lament on Mayuary” (modeled after John Keats’s “Ode on Melancholy”), is featured in the Kosmos journal July newsletter’s Summer Gallery of Poets (scroll to the bottom). Thank you to Kosmos Poetry Editor Carolyn Martin for selecting this piece!
What you’ve got is only a touch of neurosis,
so don’t get your knickers all bunched in a twist—
such worries can give you a deep vein thrombosis!
Do you think there’s a prize for a self-diagnosis?
Stop looking for lesions; don’t palpate that cyst!
What you’re dealing with here’s just a bit of neurosis…
That smartphone is gonna cause spinal stenosis!
The search engine’s warning that if you persist,
you’ll likely wind up with a deep vein thrombosis!
You’d have known it by now if you had halitosis—
like a boil, it’s not something easily missed.
Better face it, you’ve got a small case of neurosis…
Now, what would possess you to google psychosis?
Let me guess… The voices submitted a list?
Are they helping you summon a deep vein thrombosis?
It’s not a news flash you’ve got some type of –osis—
but the poking of badgers is what gets them pissed…
So give it a rest! Embrace your neurosis!
Who needs all the fuss of a deep vein thrombosis?
(Just to be on the safe side, look up pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis…)
STEPHANIE L. HARPER
“Hypochondria Blues” was published in the anthology, The Larger Geometry, by peaceCENTERbooks. Thank you to editor d ellis phelps for including my work in this beautiful and inspired collection!
The peaceCENTER, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in San Antonio, Texas, supports the learning of peace through prayer and education; and supports the demonstration of peace through nonviolent actions and community. All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the peaceCENTER.
I know how you tried to befuddle me
with that ten-legged head of yours—
how you thought you’d streak by
& ink me blind, but I see
how it is: I mean, once your penetrating-
obsidian eyes shone the ocean alive,
that cute little stunt of tucking back
your longest tentacles, as if you could
pass for being one of the girls, almost
like innocuous, trifling, bipedal me,
was glaringly obvious. I know your beak
was really poised from the start to strike—
to take my breath into your breath,
& crack open my sternum, & feast
on the still-thudding muscle inside me—
because motoring between my mere
two legs, primed to be torpedoed
with your mantle, until I tauten
like a caecum gorged on tiger prawns,
is the same jet-propulsion as yours
worked in reverse…
“Cephalopod” recently languished on a short list for an inordinate amount of time — poor guy — before ultimately being rejected, so I’ve just decided to share him!
I can’t begin to express how deeply soul-nurturing it is for me to collaborate with such an extraordinarily generous and brilliant man and poet as Robert Okaji!
Dead Rose at 5 Points Local
(A collaborative poem written with Stephanie L. Harper)
Having plucked the disheveled
petals from the core,
for the dead to speak
of last week’s sweetness—
of damp upholstery
and worn-out shoes,
of locked chests
and the faint honey
of unrealized hope.
I twist the stem;
I quarter the seeds and
blemish the plate.
Which north rings true?
bridge reveals the lost
Our ice cubes clink
no answers, as the essences
of hibiscus, lavender,
and mint slip over my tongue,
concealing the cool
tang of her demurring
But when she says whisper,
touching her lips
with an index finger,
I hear distant trains
baying like wolves,
and smell the char of nights
trailing the undiminished
river, its waters flowing
in every possible
* * *
“Dead Rose at 5 Points Local” first appeared in
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My poem, “Psychedelic,” is enjoying some lovely company during this week’s installment of Poetry Wednesday at Prometheus Dreaming! Thank you to editor David van den Berg for selecting this piece.
Pressing into the Depths
of an old-growth oak grove on your search for virgin peat having naturally preemptively considered the human calcaneus poised on its subcutaneous fat pad (the sturdy lovechild as it were of evolution & bipedal ambulation); you go whole-soled knowing nature engenders no freaks & that the point of weight-bearing actually is to sink-spring to life your very own rooted upward mobility—to elapse your mossy quiet’s once upon a time into cantilevered boom to mushroom & split your bark like a seething green superhero (who leaves you in tatters) harden yourself new gnarls to gather lichens & ever after phosphoresce the midnight fog like a moonbeam striking your cast-off glass slipper
The inimitably brilliant, insightful, and sensitive Daniel Paul Marshall has written a gorgeous review of my new chapbook, The Death’s-Head’s Testament! Please take a look, and consider pre-ordering a copy for just $6.50 each!
The Death’s Head’s
continues on from Stephanie’s previous book This
Being Done & fortunate for us Stephanie is in the present progressive,
hammering out the dimensions of poems. The poems here continue to wade in the
difficulties of womanhood, family, child-rearing, love, life, memory &
is wakeful invention, an intellectual alacrity, sure-footedness even on the
tremulous ground of the heart in the track of each advancing line. Something
common-place, is elevated to heightened importance if only for it being what it
is: a potential for articulation & loving.
the morbidity of the title, I hope (well-founded on the verve of being a
life-bringer & cultivator, which Stephanie wears unashamedly on her sleeve)
that Stephanie isn’t concerned as Roy Fisher expresses in Poplars that“I think I
am afraid of becoming a cemetery of performance.” Stephanie’s performance is to
Stephanie sets off from a harbour in…
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What a Patriot Dreams
I saw the flags come down—
their masts falling like the trees
flattened by shockwaves
in those clips of old footage
from military nuclear bomb tests,
spliced into high school history documentaries.
They weren’t projected celluloid etchings
that teenagers confined to plastic chairs
could summarily cancel
with one hand motioning No
in the universal vernacular…
Caught in a wash of floodlights
on the indigo summer dusk,
the red-white-blue swaths crushed
in on themselves like torn parachutes,
& all vanished at once—deposed
by morning’s first, grainy insinuations
that breached the blinds’ periphery,
& accreted into a single, silent force
creeping along my bedroom walls,
as if to thwart illumination:
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
“What a Patriot Dreams” was first published (in slightly different form) in the November 2018 issue of CatheXis Northwest — thank you to editor C. M. Tollefson for selecting this piece for inclusion in your beautiful journal — and appears in my newest chapbook, The Death’s-Head’s Testament, available NOW for pre-sale purchase for the fantastic price of $6.50 per copy (currently slated for release in April 2019)!
CLICK THIS LINK to my author page at Main Street Rag, which includes commentary on and sample poems from The Death’s-Head’s-Testament, to order your copy today, that the poetry gods shall smile on you for all the rest of your days!!
Our favorite poet, Robert Okaji, is truly at his finest in this “luminous” collection! Order his must-read chapbook today!
The publication date for I Have a Bird to Whistle (7 Palinodes) is February 25, and Luminous Press is currently offering copies for $7.50, shipping included, to U.S. addresses, through the 24th. Unfortunately, Luminous doesn’t ship internationally, but I will take care of those orders myself.
Contact me at aBirdtoWhistle@yahoo.com for orders to be shipped outside the U.S.