Poem Live at Rootstalk!

My poem, “Travel by Starlight,” which just so happens to be the inspiration behind my original illustration serving as the banner on this blog (above), is live at Rootstalk Magazine, an online publication published in conjunction with the Center for Prairie Studies at my alma mater, Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA. Thank you so much to editor Mark Baechtel for accepting this piece!

Feeling Squeezed at the Grocery Store I Conclude that the Propensity to Ignore Pain is Not Necessarily Virtuous, but Continue Shopping and Gather the Ingredients for Ham Fried Rice because That’s What I Cook When My Wife is Out-of-Town and I’m Not in the Mood for Italian, and Dammit I’m Not Ill, Merely a Little Inconvenienced, and Hey, in the 70’s I Played Football in Texas and When the Going Gets Tough…

Human of extraordinary survival and dearest friend, poet Robert Okaji, gives me much to celebrate today! Happy 5th Anniversary! You rock! 💖

O at the Edges

emergency

Feeling Squeezed at the Grocery Store I Conclude that the Propensity to Ignore Pain is Not Necessarily Virtuous, but Continue Shopping and Gather the Ingredients for Ham Fried Rice because That’s What I Cook When My Wife is Out-of-Town and I’m Not in the Mood for Italian, and Dammit I’m Not Ill, Merely a Little Inconvenienced, and Hey, in the 70’s I Played Football in Texas, and When the Going Gets Tough…

I answer work email in the checkout line. Drive home, take two aspirin.
Place perishables in refrigerator.  Consider collapsing in bed.  Call wife.
Let in dog.  Drive to ER, park.  Provide phone numbers. Inhale. Exhale.
Repeat. Accept fate and morphine. Ask for lights and sirens, imagine the
seas parting. On the table, consider fissures and cold air, windows and
hagfish. Calculate arm-length, distance and time.  Expect one  insertion,
receive another. Dissonance  in perception, in reality.  Turn head when

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Live Feed from the SW Florida Eagle Cam

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Live Feed from the SW Florida Eagle Cam

For E9, Born December 31, 2016

1.
Everything
must first have been

a nameless billowing
in the silent house

of before    until its voice
yolk-forged     could wrest

a pyroclastic mouth
sufficient to speak birth’s

dialect of brokenness

2.
I watched the possibility of you
cradled sixty feet high in a Slash Pine

become a five-day-old
white fluff-bundle of spunk

& open-beaked ferocity     You
command the ripping impulse

that strips off the fish’s silver skin
midriff to tail     with one     swift

grip & flexion     exposing
the host’s fleshy glisten

of lipid-pink life to be flaked
& held to your tiny maw’s tip

3.
Before this feeding     I think
nothing had yet been born

whose name was Tenderness

no one to bring this warmth
of tastes & swallows growing ever

heavier in your belly & on your lids
to bear you to your imperative sleep:

Dream    Little One     in the haven
of your father’s stalwart breast!

Dream of wings outstretched
on the azure’s salt-breath!

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Live Feed from the SW Florida Eagle Cam” was published in The Ibis Head Review in December 2017, and appears in my chapbook, This Being Done, also available on Amazon.com.

Imprisoned

lock-and-key
Imprisoned

Now is not the time
for my fettered    titanium lines—

no time for me to claim
I know a thing or two about life
as if I were anyone’s keeper…

A “suicidally depressed” convict doing life for murder
petitioned my psychotherapist friend to treat him:

& so it was that with all the detached generosity
a wife & mother of three could muster     she rendered
a diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder
even as his icy eyes ignited in her a germ of lust
that razed every trace of her in a sudden flush

Now is really not the time for idle moralizing
about prisoners     or locks & keys     as if
there were any kind of justice in poetry

It’s not the time for tying up loose ends
saving pennies for rainy days     or chrysalizing
our wrinkly little walnut meats to pupate belief
in the virtue of counting the hours

Now     the dragon is awake
blinking in the daylight of withering dreams
wagging her head in a gnashing rage

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Imprisoned” was first published in issue IV of  Claudius Speaks in October 2017, and is included in my chapbook, This Being Done, released on July 6, 2018, and now available on Amazon.

Harper_Stephanie_COV

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!

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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.