Hypochondria Blues (with recording)

badger

Hypochondria Blues

What you’ve got is only a touch of neurosis,
so don’t get your knickers all bunched in a twist—
such worries will 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 smart phone 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 something not 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
Instrumental: Disquiet by Kevin MacLeod

 

“Hypochondria Blues” was published in peaceCENTERbooks’ 2018 anthology THE LARGER GEOMETRY. Thank you to editor d. ellis phelps for including this piece in such an inspiring collection!
Author note:
This is one of those rare poems that was in no way whatsoever informed by my real-life experience… 😉

Letter from the Other Side of Halfway

Western Meadowlark

For Robert Okaji

Dear Bob: In one of my former incarnations
as a starving, family-less, twenty-something Grad
Student, well before the advent of emails & texting,
when handwritten sentiments on stationery were still
in vogue, I certainly sent my share of “Dear Bob Letters.”
The recipients thereof, on the whole a far cry from being
remotely “Bob-like,” included a number of real posers,
some of whom now strut & crow on Facebook like
the ancient, hoary roosters (read: cocks) they clearly are.
As for the others (more of them than you might imagine),
they’re all dead, several by their own hands, even—a stone-
cold statistic (the seeming synchronicity of which is tough
to ignore) I frequently grapple with, sorting through conjured,
a posteriori details & associated, surreal imagery by day, &
chasing after egotistical ghosts in my über-symbolic dreams
by night, always with the conviction that some message for me
yet lurks in the dry lakebeds & sunless recesses of the Nether,
a realm to which the tips of my toes & then some are no strangers.

The only window-treatment manning the threshold between
me & my secrets is a translucent-pink swath of chiffon,
which I’m afraid doesn’t leave much to the imagination—
so consider yourself warned, amico mio! Against the current
backdrop of imbecilic plutocrats, psychopaths on trains,
& every other persuasion under the sun, hardly to be tempered
by the incidental, decent soul, it would not take a discerning
eye long to know me better than I know myself, which is just
about the only thing I know anymore…

In my attempts to locate myself, I often look to nature—
these days, it’s among the imposing Sequoias we boast here
in the Northwest, along with the showy cottonwoods, as fertile
as they are indiscriminate, stripping off their seed-fluff every
chance they get, a prospect that doesn’t seem to bother
the scrub jays deigning to my level for a squawk now & then
before ascending to a higher branch. Whatever folks might say
about birds of a feather, well, after a number of my earnest stints
shadowing local hens— their distinct way of wearing those vibrant
petticoats tucked underneath their brown slickers, & their biting
commentary having seemed uniquely suited to the cold & rain—
I’ve yet to locate my flock, & the search has turned southeastward:
Taking a tip from the meadowlark, I veer for the high desert,
my flight path crossing the sagebrush-dotted, volcanic earth,
hoping I’ll soon look down & see you floating
in a sea of ten gallon hats, just beyond the convection
columns braced against the electric blue sky.

I don’t suppose your self-claimed exile looks anything
like I’ve imagined? It’s not with a small twinge of jealousy
that I seek consolation in your brand of solitude on the other
side of that horizon line; as exile, it would seem to me,
involves the condition of having at some point belonged
somewhere. Having spent a lifetime “standing out in my field,”
I’m not very handy at extrapolating any other kind of belonging,
& feel I ought to find out what I’ve been missing, here,
on my side of halfway.

So, I’ll be headed out past the Cascades & the swaggering
sage grouses of the eastern uplands, reaching for that horizon—
green seeping to red, “clouds feathering in” no further from us
than one step beyond our any given station—where you can be
sure I’ll always be no more than a step away from you, & ever
your honest friend, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Letter from the Other Side of Halfway” was first drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and though it has since undergone a few revisions, the sentiments it contains—and the friendship that continues to inspire them—have endured, for which I am immeasurably grateful.

 

elegy (20171129)

Out of the ashes of heartbreak rises the phoenix of poetry. A brilliant piece by the illustrious Charles Payne on the recent loss of his pooch, Bodhi.

Words and Feathers

i pass through a cold spot
the paranormal experts
tell me this is a sign
some formerly corporeal being

is absorbing energy because
it wishes to communicate
or otherwise engage
with a world of mucus-leaking
sacks of wobbly flesh

who’s a good boy?

i don’t discourage the flickers
at the edge of my vision
the sound of jangled tags
the clacking of long toenails

happy to ride a bus
i’ll get off only when they make me
without a known destination

still

lately i gaze
out the window at a soft horizon
and feel the need for heaven

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Lynne Burnette’s New Poetry Chapbook!

Congratulations, Lynne!

I’m so pleased for poetess extraordinaire, Lynne Burnette, that her poetry chapbook, Irresistible, is now available for pre-publication order at Finishing Line Press! Check out Lynne’s gorgeous poetry on her blog, HERE, and please consider ordering your very own copy of her book!

#PoetryLives!

Lynne Burnett

Now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/irresistible-by-lynne-burnett/
As the pressrun is determined by advance sales, reserving your copy between now and January 12, 2018 would make a huge difference! My book’s actual release date is March 9, 2018.

What they’re saying:

Lynne Burnett is astonishing. I cannot think of another poet who writes with more humanity. Wisdom is a word we seldom associate with poetry, but she reminds us that simply seeing the world the way it is can be a profoundly moral and life affirming act.  It’s what happens when compassion marries irony. The love child is this wondrous little book.” —D.G Geis, author Fire Sale (Tupelo Press/Leapfolio) and Mockumentary (Main Street Rag).

The poems inside Lynne Burnett’s chapbook live up to the collection title. Irresistible. Here is a poet demonstrating her considerable talents. There is much music and rhythm in these…

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Beesiness as Usual

Beesiness As Usual_Matthew Harper

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:

From Every Moment A Second, by Robert Okaji

Anastasia Maps, by Devi S. Laskar

 

Last Day of Pre-Publication Sales for Robert Okaji’s Chapbook

Don’t get left in the cold as Robert Okaji’s wondrous poetry takes the literary world by storm! 🌩 Let’s celebrate the difference that Bob’s vital words have made in so many lives, and take today’s last opportunity to make a difference for him! 😊

O at the Edges

From Every Moment a Second

Today is the final day of the pre-publication sales period for my new chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. If you intended to order a copy but haven’t yet (the dog ate your homework, you had to wash your hair, poetry? you’re kidding, right?), time’s running out. Order here.

Many, many thanks to the members of this blog community for supporting my writing.  I am truly grateful for your wisdom, advice, humor and willingness to help me traverse the strange and wonderful worlds of poetry and publication.

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Day 6/30 of Charles Payne’s Poetic Feats in the Tupelo 30/30 Project (20170806)

Our resident WordPress Corvid is but one small poet, but he’s taking 30 giant leaps for Poetkind! Let’s help him stay afloat while he helps an Indie Press keep poetry vital and accessible! Please consider supporting his cause – a cause which is relevant to all of us! – by sponsoring one of Charles’s 30 poems in the month of August, or by making a donation (no amount is insignificant!) in the name of poetry! Most of all, let’s show our appreciation for all the ways “the stuff that comes out of a bird’s mouth” entertains, inspires, and helps us feel connected!

Words and Feathers

this side of the creek
i dried my socks
and went barefoot…

——

Want to read more? You can. My poem invisible made visible is available to read at the Tupelo 30/30 project page.

Already Day 6, and you may actually be reading this one Day 7. I hope I get better/faster/stronger/6 million dollars worth soon so that I don’t keep you waiting.

Folks, I need your help. Tupelo Press needs your help. More people need to read poetry. I have three whole weeks of sponsorships still left. So why not take advantage of me–I mean, this opportunity. Go to Tupelo Press’ Project 30/30 page for more details.

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Days 26 & 27 of 30!

My Dear WordPress Friends!

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and patience with me! The joyful interactions that have been happening on this site have served to keep me afloat during what has proven to be quite an extreme challenge for me. You’ve made it possible, and for that I am grateful!

Please take a couple of minutes to check out this AMAZINGLY quirky, inspiring & POETIC video I found on YouTube (link below) to accompany my little ditty on Cuttlefish! You won’t be sorry!

 

CuttlefishIntro2

Broken (Day 26)

Your kindergartener learned
a new trick on the monkey bars
yesterday…

Cuttlefish (Day 27)

Watching
the way you negotiate the world
by climbing into platonic forms
to become the myriad     ideal bodies
of the sea floor…

Continue reading both pieces (& catch up on Days 1-25) here!

My Day 8 Poem for the May 30/30 Challenge is up at Tupelo Press

Dross

Dross

 

When the glacial lake outburst flood first scored

her watershed dawn into the earth’s bones

she was meant to be…

Continue reading here…

 

Learn More about my participation in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project here:

 

These 30/30 poems (one per day for 30 days in a row!) must necessarily be composed and published at quite a frenetic pace, especially for “perfectionistic” (which is a far cry from perfect…) me. I’m revealing some pretty raw stuff, and I deeply appreciate the support of everyone reading along! Thank you so much!