The fantabulous Robert Okaji and I have collaborated on this “found-prompt” poem, inspired by and ultimately published by editor D. Ellis Phelps! What a wonderfully rewarding poetic experience! 💖💖💖
“Anatomy of a Fustercluck” appears in my new chapbook, This Being Done, and was the “editor’s choice” winner of Rattle magazine’s January 2016 Ekphrastic Challenge. Thank you, Timothy Green, for seeing something of what I hoped would be seeable, and for your validating comment on this piece:
“From the start, this painting gave me an unsettling feeling, as if I’d sat down to watch Seinfeld and didn’t realize this was actually Twin Peaks. I couldn’t quite explain why, but this cast of characters just seemed so annoying. When I read this poem, I realized, ‘That’s it! They’re flustering in clumps like maimed birds!’ Harper makes sense of it for me, and with both humor and craft. Even the last line, which seems at first a cliché, fits perfectly—this kind of day is long, isn’t it?”
THIS IS THE FINAL WEEK OF PREORDER SALES FOR:
This Being Done, available for preorder NOW until April 27, 2018 at Finishing Line Press. The number of copies sold during the preorder sale will determine my print-run, so every single order makes a huge difference for my book’s release (scheduled to ship on June 22, 2018)! To order, click: HERE! I’m grateful for your support!
Once upon a midday gleaming, as the sun perched, eager-seeming,
above my homestead’s weedy patches of forgotten sod,
whilst I sighed, wondrous with gloom—oh, how that sky did fiercely loom!—
upon my yard’s bedraggled flora a brown-grayish rabbit gnawed—
with a certain pluck & gusto, chose its clumps, & briskly gnawed,
ever mindful where it trod.
I presumed it was a visitor from lettuce fields abroad,
for it was fuzzy, quick & small, cute as a little cotton ball,
but unlike any other rabbit that I’d ever seen before…
I distinctly don’t recall if it was springtime, or late fall—
where I live, these stark environs kind of always look like fall—
lacking features to enthrall.
Soon, my feelings started seeping—the way shadows take to creeping—
from their places of safekeeping, ‘til they lumbered into view
(as for that moment’s peace I’d sought, when with my sanctuary wrought,
I’d crawled inside to stay—& stayed much longer than I knew,
It could’ve dried & blown away, for all I really knew…)—
& there was nothing I could do.
Now, the rabbit, on grasses chewing—my soul eschewing—is my undoing:
My vain attempts to woo it hither churn up far too much ado,
so, I’m here, just sitting, stewing, my years accruing (they keep accruing)
of the untold days’ ensuing—garish sunlight streaming through
(when all is said & done, I’ll bet that sun just seeps right through!);
also, I’d swear that fur-ball grew!
With this craving so unnerving, I will wither undeserving
of even one, small, savory serving of Hasenpfeffer stew—
my wee compadre, to be sure, won’t soon be rapping at my door:
I could with tears & snot implore, writhing prostrate on the floor
but it wouldn’t give two shits if I dried up right on this floor—
yet to hunger, evermore!
STEPHANIE L. HARPER
Here’s to art imitating poetry imitating poets imitating life—or something like that…
Please check out my poem, “Chartreuse,” now live at Califragile. I’d like to thank editor Wren Tuatha for selecting my poem and publishing it along with its accompanying illustration.
One of the many advantages giving birth to and raising a natural-born photographer offers, is that when your debut chapbook of poetry gets accepted for publication nineteen years later (and you happen to have the slightest inkling of how blessed you are), you will already have an “in” with a brilliant cover artist!
I’m so proud to share with all my WordPress Compatriots that this gorgeous photo, “Beesiness as Usual,” by my son, the one and only Matthew Harper, will be gracing the cover of my poetry chapbook, This Being Done (Finishing Line Press). Stay tuned for more announcements regarding my book’s availability for pre-publication order and estimated release date (don’t worry, I won’t let you forget…)!
In the meantime, please check out the following beautiful poetry collections — also forthcoming from Finishing Line Press — and available for order now:
Hear the words that inspired this artwork for the cover of Robert Okaji’s new chapbook, *From Every Moment A Second* in the voice of the man himself!
“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. FLP is taking prepublication orders here. It was also the inspiration for the artwork gracing the cover. I am in debt to Stephanie L. Harper for providing such a vivid and appropriate piece of art for the book.
Please note: prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help, and are able, please purchase your copy before August 11. Thank you!
The team color of your alma mater’s rival
A jacket that never gets misplaced
The labial-nasal fricative of choice
for cicadas & fire-flies on a summer’s night
The vaguely perturbing chortle
of that quintessentially hip grandma
who reclaimed her youth through Yoga
The tinkle of that crystal bell
you long ago purchased in Prague for a song
An herbal cold remedy’s fizz
Key-lime pie’s tang
The fizz & the tang of a Midori Sour on the rocks
& the fuzzy socks
that of course you wouldn’t be caught dead in
The vinyl stool you still covet in your mother’s kitchen
& the satiny ribbon you once got for honorable mention
In other words
the dessert menu’s less lethal option
for the lactose intolerant on a date
“/kənˈvekSH(ə)n/ noun: the movement caused within a fluid by the tendency of hotter and therefore less dense material to rise, and colder, denser material to sink under the influence of gravity, which consequently results in transfer of heat.” Google
“In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, ‘Let there be light’ (…)” Genesis 1:1-3
If before the beginning something
had not yet appeared from nothing how did
nothing manage to imbibe the god’s breath
that marked the beginning of creation
(particularly since before there was something
there surely wouldn’t have been things
such as gods or breaths)?
For that matter out of what non-thing
was said sudden cloud burped
into the slate gray chaos that hung
in a sky that couldn’t have been there but was
ostensibly sandwiched tidily between
the turbulent blue water (we’ll address that later)
& the gauzier ‘ether’ that was not yet the air
for the deities who were not yet themselves?
& if in the beginning (as the story goes)
those twin neonates formlessness & desolation
that was at the time nothing
from where for the love of sanity
did that ‘raging ocean’ arise?
I mean of the untold passions we might’ve presumed
preceded all extant matter & manner of cognizance
why did we dream up an ocean & infuse it
with fulmination only then to have it (not) be
‘engulfed in total darkness’ as if to deflect
attention from how much we were trying to make
out of a whole bunch of nothing?
Aside from being a bit fishy
the story does lend itself rather poorly
to proper revelation no doubt
amounting to the non-existent body of water in question
being (or more precisely not-being) rightfully fraught
that antiquity could do no better than to liken it—
in its purported (not to mention impossible)
shared subsistence with nothing—
to Phorkys the weedy-bearded progenitor of the gorgons…
Is it any wonder
the artists should depict
so much transference of hot air
as the white wisp of a ship
vanishing in the distant mist?
STEPHANIE L. HARPER
This thought experiment was inspired by the (impressively copious) weather satellite video loops of convection clouds popping into existence, which my son has been tracking down online and sharing with me… just another example of the uncountable, humbling insights into the natural world that I’m sure would have failed to blip on my radar, if not for his beautiful influence.
An earlier version of “Convection” appeared on this blog in Summer 2016.
Mindful of my sandy feet skimming the sea-foam
I still try tiptoeing
the silvery flicker that parts the waters because
unlike Christ’s canonized stroll upon the waves
of wresting words loose from language
& setting their dolphin bodies forth
to swim into their unbound meanings
ensconced in a halo of mist
along with everything
every last pearlescent thing
that was lost to us
when we were emptied
& jettisoned into the sea