Legacy

Legacy

i’m no kind of Ishmael to expound
some great protagonist’s wayward saga,

& haven’t the slightest inkling of other

women’s misfortunes, nor do i know
if i’m even justified in such grief over a life
squandered on an endless vigil’s cries of
who sees me now?  & now?  & now?

who, besides this mirror i face,
knows my bulging litany of failures,
my spurious assumption of a character i detest?

i was born lacking the power
to reason my way out of this gravitational
force i’ve abhorred since youth, & which
now condemns me to lug about my globed
satellites—

to bear these adjuncts’ fleshy heft, as if I were
still umbilically moored to the gangway by my own
murdered albatross—

each a whale of white with its vacant eye
downcast like a faded damask rose.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

 

 

“Legacy” made its debut appearance in Underfoot Poetry, and is the opening poem of my forthcoming chapbook collection, The Death’s-Head’s Testament, scheduled for release from Main Street Rag in March 2019, and available for advance orders NOW at a substantial discount ($6.50 per copy!). Please consider purchasing a copy of my book (click link above), and/or sharing my author page with your online communities to help get the word out! I am forever grateful for all of your support of my work!

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__________cover photo by Matthew Harper

Painted Chickens

chicken mug

Photo of actual coffee mug in question, circa 1994.

Twenty years ago
I received a birthday gift
from a close college buddy-slash-sometime lover
(What on earth were we thinking?).
Back then, our past was already in the past
& twenty-four was already not young.
He gave me a coffee mug
covered in chickens—

yes, painted chickens—

three plump specimens posed around the outside,
& one that looks like an index finger
with an eye, a comb, a beak, & a wattle,
slapped onto the bottom.

How, I can’t fathom,
but my friend knew that those chickens
with their orange-red, expressionistic bodies
would be a boat-floater for me—

the one time I had slept with him
had been an epic shipwreck,
with a silent drive to the airport in its wake;

on the way, we choked down pancakes,
& I stifled sobs in my coffee,
averting my eyes
from the helpless horror in his.
I then flew off into the wild, wide sky,
bewildered, drowning.

Somehow, for years to come,
his southern gentlemanly charms
still served to allure:
he kept his promise to write
& took pains to catalogue for me
the details of his worldly escapades
& various, accompanying sexual conquests,
always making sure to emphasize
the ways in which they were hot for him,
so as to prove those trysts’ relative rightness.

Then, came the birthday gift—
the unexplainably gratifying
chicken cup.

Still burning hot
& feathered in their chili-pepper red,
royal purple & verdant green cloaks,
my static & impossibly happy
aphrodisiac chickens
blush like lovers on a Grecian urn;

clucking, urgent.

My southern gent,
now so long ago flown from this callous coop,
wooed another & had his own brood,
as, in due course, did I,
but the mug, no worse for wear, remains
a spectacular feature—
like a bright birthday piñata
(with its promise of sweet reward)—
of my sacred morning ritual.

These chickens,
still ecstatically surprised,
letting out unabashed, open-beaked caterwauls,
adorn my most aged & prized coffee mug;
a vessel, perfectly-sized,
it cups its contents so adoringly,
fiercely,
like an egg enveloping its cache of gold,
as I take privileged sips.

The big chicken on the left
might actually be a rooster,

& that one on the bottom,
a middle finger.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER
Chicken with attitude

“Painted Chickens” was first published in the winter 2014 edition of Sixfold magazine.  I was inspired to post it on the blog today by a dream I had the other night involving a brood of chickens who were all trying to ingratiate themselves to me with their eggs, all of which were severely malformed and/or proportionally impossible to have been laid by the given, proud clucker presenting it. One of the eggs gifted to me was shaped like a tiny, raw roast that fit in the palm of my hand. Trying not to snub this sweet avian’s generosity, I remarked, with all the casualness I could muster, “Oh, it looks like this one isn’t quite done yet,” and I gently set it back in the nest. From the slapped expression on my friend’s feathered little face, however, I’m pretty sure she knew the score… A viable analysis of this one as yet eludes me, so I’m definitely open to suggestions!    

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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Recording of Robert Okaji’s Poem, “Mayflies”

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!

O at the Edges

“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!

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My Day 15 Poem for the May 30/30 Challenge is up at Tupelo Press!

chimera

Chimera

What cause did I provision for my own death
to be ordered & carried out?  Which of my features

amounted to monstrosity?     My prescience to forewarn your
Lycian forebears of cataclysmic storms & volcanic eruptions? (…)

Continue reading here!

I’ve managed to scrape to the half-way point, and would still be ever so grateful for your generous HELP!

My Day 10 Poem for the May 30/30 Challenge is up at Tupelo Press

can-of-worms

Ars Wormetica

  

Sure, I’d had a worm’s eye view of what I’d be asking
for by opening that can, but it wasn’t enough to keep me
from taking it in the grip of my one hand, & sinking
the opener’s tiny, circular saw into the tin-lined-steel lid
with the stubborn squeeze of my other…

Continue reading here!

 

Make me an offer I can’t refuse here!