Chimera

chimera
Chimera 

Had you been capable of opening
your eyes     you’d have seen

that the obvious upside
to my unique coalescence

of scaly-headed tail     caprid skull
leonine belly     & three belching maws

was my reliable prescience
to forewarn of cataclysm     but

you never ceased to make monstrosity
your sticking point

Even your Lycean forbears’ stories
of the diaspora—        of how my children’s

fetal cells drifted from my womb     endured
the eons amidst the vessel & sinew landscapes

of aliens     & were ultimately delivered
to their new     craggy homeland beyond

the blood-brain cordon    to spawn a nation
of discrete selves as rare & fierce as their maker—

have failed    it seems     to inspire
your affection…

Was the transgression of my seething
once upon a time beneath your collective

hunkering in the basalt’s depths
so heinous as to name me     Anathema

so aberrant as to exonerate
your assassin’s sullying of Pegasus?

Though murder carapaces your shuddering
heads from my ash cloud’s descent

yet know this:     your lost-wax fairytales
have no more tempered the face of who I am

than cast the specter from the dark
hell-fire you dream:     that yet I am

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Vessel

“Chimera” was first published in Isacoustic* in May 2018. Thank you to editor and poet Barton Smock for selecting this piece for inclusion in Isacoustic* vol. the fourth.

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.

 

Lupercalia

Howl2

Lupercalia

We probe into the distant    wintry
rest of white oaks & umbrella pines

moonlit with longing to thrill
in the feral     hesitant glints

that crack the black tourmaline cold
our eyes pursuing their penumbrae

until the brink of blindness    reaching
for our bloodline of lost

infidel selves     still bound
to the night’s crystalline tenors

As our illicit     newborn brothers were
abandoned to the Tiber     & delivered

keening for milk     to their mongrel lives
we     too     were borne by a savage river

to a mother    waiting on the Palatine shore

Capitoline Wolf

“Lupercalia” appears in my chapbook, This Being Done, which will be available for pre-sale purchase at Finishing Line Press, starting next week! Stay tuned for more announcements, including the order link on the Finishing Line Press website as soon as it goes live!

Anatomy of a Fustercluck

Starling_Fustercluck

It’s thanks to crime scenes like this
that I sometimes dread people,
particularly the way they flock to orange pylons,
fluster in clumps like maimed birds,
and hatch out stories,
which are always either parboiled in half-truths,
or scrambled by hypocrisy. 

Take that camera-laden busy-body, for instance,
piqued there, barely disguising her hope
of spawning a murmuration—
donning her intrepidly purple polo,
she’s the self-declared ruler
of the pecking order that’s been bred into us
for the engendering of our chronicles:

Clearly, she knows how to swaddle her offspring
with ample pageantry
to ensure the stork’s swift delivery
of her inchoate prince.

Like Cronus, her Titan predecessor,
who swallowed up his own children
to thwart the prophecy of his time-driven demise,
she’s devouring a flood of raw peptides
from the sea-thick breeze
wafting right past the preoccupied deputy,
to sate her enduring appetite
for stone-cold lies.

Meanwhile, that blond-haired man
in the short shorts and flip-flops,
fixated on his faux-gold wristwatch,
has been pacing this whole time
on the cluster’s fringe,
completely cracked.

If you ask me,
he’s as guilty as the day is long.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Anatomy of a Fustercluck” won the Rattle Magazine January 2016 Ekphrastic Challenge, and appears in my forthcoming chapbook, THIS BEING DONE (Finishing Line Press, available for pre-publication order February 2018 — stay tuned for more information!!). I’ve been thinking a lot these days about crime scenes, guilt, and the fraught task of sorting out sensationalism from the horrors of reality… That’s all.

An Elegy for Birds & Bees

When a woman pretends to press her life down into a nice, tidy little package, all she accomplishes is spring-loading all her vital energy down into shadow. ‘Fine. I’m fine,’ such a woman says… Then one day, we hear she has taken up with a piccolo player and has run off to Tippicanoe to be a pool hall queen…”  Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Photo,

Photo, “Lavender Kiss,” by Kilauea Productions owner, Matthew Harper

over & over in habitual drone
i repeat a phrase in my mind that no one knows i say
because i have not told
i am saying i’m done
but this being done
is the rending burden i will never be done bearing
even though my climbing son
a speck eighty feet high in a skyline of swaying cedars
can heft the storm clouds away
from his own silvery horizon
& my seeking daughter
has tenacity enough     without me
to prize out four leaf clovers
from speciously green reaches
but i will never release
this breath of finality that i keep
choked in my throat behind earnest songs for my children
no     & i will swallow the rising bile
when the Northern Flicker perches
on our aluminum chimney top     puffed-up
so proud in those marrow-less bones
of his impervious skull’s clever     territorial ricocheting

being done happened
within my own sinew-lined pelvis
the cracked bowl
filled     drained     & refilled
with meticulously rich essences
long after anything living had been fed
the relentlessly heavy     gnawing
red slough of losing myself
to nothing     for nothing
frightened me
& so     i had the offending flesh cut out
the fossilized rind that was left is now locked
with its un-told stories
beneath eons of hardened sediments

this being done happens in spring
while i am driving alone
it happens quickly
in instants of lapsed attention
in overzealous moments of stony apathy
when windshield wipers stick unexpectedly
or when sudden     pink shafts of evening sun
transmute newborn lambs bucking fervently
for tender grass & mother’s milk
into silhouettes haunting the roadside
the being done
is all these countless     fleeting deaths
i tear into strips     soak in chewed glue
& fashion together to house myself
in a prodigal     crinkled     purgatorial prune

these tiny     stinging     imprudent suicides
should all be spirited away from their haughty blooms
& borne into the ancient hive
clutched industriously
to the undersides of fuzzy exoskeletons
there     my secret     greedy orchestrations
would become coded in sacred routines
my life programmed in dance
& propagated by ecstatic waggles & fastidious figure eights
to a crescendo of communal comprehension
of the one     seminal purpose
of the being done that shall be

done at all costs
the Queen’s Royal Jelly must be
sealed with wax in her hexagonal vaults

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“An Elegy for Birds & Bees” made its debut appearance in Slippery Elm Literary Journal, December 2015. It was a finalist in the 2015 Slippery Elm Poetry Prize, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

My poem, “Prologue to My Birth” is up at Bonnie McClellan’s International Poetry Month Celebration

Lavender Kiss_Matthew Harper

My poem, “Prologue to My Birth,” is up at esteemed editor, translator, poet and artist, Bonnie McClellan’s 2017 International Poetry Month Celebration! Bonnie will be featuring a poem per day for 28 days following this year’s theme, “Neural Networks: The Creative Power of Language.” I hope you’ll enjoy following this rich, diverse, international network of creative voices. Thank you for your support!

January 2017 Open Mic

I am participating in the January 2017 Open Mic on Words and Feathers. Please go to the link provided to hear a rendition of my poem, “Anatomy of a Fustercluck,” which was recorded with help from my son, Matthew.

Many thanks to Crow for hosting this event!

Anatomy of a Fustercluck made its first and only prior appearance on Rattle magazine’s website in February 2016.

Words and Feathers

It’s a new year. We’ve all got these feelings still building up inside us like moisture inside a kernel of popcorn  If we don’t let them out soon, POP! out insides will be outsides and no amount of butter and salt will make it better.

I’m here for you. The January 2017 Open Mic is now open for you to record your poems/songs/rants/diatribes. But please, no money-making schemes.

The Skinny:

  1. Record yourself reading one of your own works.
  2. Post it on your site.
  3. Include a link to this site in your post.
    OR Comment on that month’s call for entries
    OR send me a message using the contact form.
  4. I will post a link with your name and poem title RIGHT HERE.
  5. It’s an open mic invitation. NOT a challenge.

Some tips:

  • Go simple.
    I record using my iPhone, then email/share the file with myself. I very rarely edit it…

View original post 247 more words

Convection

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.

Stormy Sea

Yaroslav Gerzhedovich’s Stormy Sea, courtesy of Google Images

/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.”

“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     without lungs no less
to take in that convection of a 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 breathing)?

For that matter     out of what non-thing
was said sudden cloud burped
into the foggy     slate gray chaos
that hung     but didn’t
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     brighter     frothier 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
comprised everything
(however antithetical to actual substance)
that was spontaneously no longer
nothing

from where     for the love of sanity     did that ocean arise?

& why (never mind how)     pray tell     was it raging?

Of the untold passions
we might’ve presumed preceded
all extant matter & manner of cognizance
why did we resort to imagining rage?

Do we unknowingly float
upon the ocean’s foamy resentment
at the resonant indignity of not yet
being not
nothing
but still getting scapegoated for concealing
the primordially shapeless absences of
nothing
with its own nothingness
(unjustly condemned for the volition & malice
that nonbeing precluded it from possessing)
even as it     itself     was entirely concealed
in the total darkness we all know is really
just another way of saying a whole lot of
nothing?

To wit     aside from being a bit fishy
the story does lend itself rather poorly
to proper revelation
amounting     no doubt
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 myth—
in its purported (not to mention impossible)
shared subsistence with
nothing
before the beginning began—
to Phorcys     the weedy-bearded
progenitor of the gorgons…

Is it any wonder the artists should depict
this mystic transference of hot air
as the wisp of a ship
dissolving into the mist?

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

 

3-DAY-QUOTE CHALLENGE

I decided to post this “Challenge” (also located on my About/Challenges page) as a single blog entry on my Home page, since I am quite pleased with how it all turned out. The quotations are from among my favorite literary influences (one representative each from poetry, fiction, and non-fiction), and the artwork is my own. Enjoy!  🙂

3-DAY-QUOTE CHALLENGE

4yearoldadult has very graciously taken it upon himself to give me a much needed swift kick in the pants, to get myself into the habit of “blogging” more regularly.  I know that this medicine will be good for me, so I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his encouragement and enthusiasm, and for his efforts to connect with people through cyber-space, to make the world a little bit better!

Day 3: From Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

When a woman pretends to press her life down into a nice, tidy little package, all she accomplishes is spring-loading all her vital energy down into shadow. ‘Fine. I’m fine,’ such a woman says… Then one day, we hear she has taken up with a piccolo player and has run off to Tippicanoe to be a pool hall queen…

This is about how it happens.
One day, we decide that we are DONE being everything but who we are.  Unfortunately, we usually have to learn the hard way that we are really not all that into piccolo players…  We owe it to ourselves to remember who we are and what we do want to be doing, and then we have to start doing it, at all costs — because the alternative, which is existential death, is a far, far cry from a substitute for life.

The Hole

Day 2:  Excerpt from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy

Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe.  The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria.  During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience died of internal hemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off.  Grunthos is reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic My Favorite Bathtime Gurgles when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization, leaped straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.
The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England, in the destruction of the planet Earth.

I very much share the view with the late, great Douglas Adams that there are some very particular offenses that one can perpetrate on the universal device of communication/language, which without exception, result in the phenomenon known as bad poetry…  For instance, I am sure that some of my renderings from my early high school days could have competed handily with the ignominious works of the Azgoths of Kria — and just for the record (in case anyone is taking notes), they have all been dispatched in flame…

Insecurity

Day 1: “On Pain”
               From Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

   Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
   Even as the stone of the fruit must break,
that its heart may stand in the sun, so must
you know pain.
   And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily
miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous
than your joy;
   And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your
fields.

   And you would watch with serenity through the winters
of your grief.

  • ••

   Much of your pain is self-chosen.
   It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you
heals your sick self.
   Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence
and tranquility:
   For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the
tender hand of the Unseen,
   And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been
fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with
His own sacred tears.

Kahlil Gibran has been and continues to be one of my favorite literary influences. If he had been our contemporary, today’s theorists in psychology might have made him the poster child for the “Highly Sensitive” personality type.  To me, he is a timeless and ageless genius, whose wise insights into both the seen and the Unseen have enriched my development as a writer, artist, and “Highly Sensitive” human being.  I can’t imagine anyone could read his works, particularly The Prophet, and not come away with something life-changing, every time.

Dreams Depths