Posts for June 4, 2018


Why Such LONG Faces?

Such a great cloud of witnesses
Icons –
You have been painted with great skill and detail
You surround me
Silent witnesses
Eyes focused  – on me
You have stories to tell with no words
Reverent poses
Longing glances
Traditional gestures of body and hands
Eyes, nose and mouth
Through your gaze I make
Eye contact
with the saints
Spiritual connection is fulfilled
through your eyes


buzzard bait

gossip takes flight,
but not in a fast paced
frantic flurry of wings.
more like a flock of buzzards
lazily circling a subject
beat plumb to death
by backwoods conjecture,
taking stock of the situation
from the air
before touching down
to tear what remains apart.
word is a winged scavenger

and i ain’t too good
to pick at the gory details.
snap up the bloody, trashy, bits
and swallow them whole
for later digestion.
good stories and healthy roadkill
have plenty of meat
on the bone.



alone where
the wet woods smells
of wild ginger

roots of old sycamores
the calligraphy of
forgotten prayers

grief whispers
like two sisters afraid
in the dark that no voice

will find them 
give the news
that must be told

once the blue kindness
in the eyes of the
blessed virgin fades


Traumaville, Arkansas

(Based on a true story.)

No signs of pit stop in long stretches of rice and soybeans fields
Heavy laden bladder pleads with six-month-pregnant woman
requires any possible stop on 920-mile drive
Glorious relief comes at first sight of random gas station

Vagrant behind counter points long, witchy finger
toward back of shabby shack market
Crumbly hall and creepy door lead to storeroom slum
warehousing typical travel junk food, light bulbs, what-have-you,
toilet with three inches of scum, top to bottom,
coordinating sink adorned by mirror lavished
with ancient dust and dried mystery droplets—
match made in toxic waste heaven—and 

33-gallon trash can stands firm
two feet from raunchy throne
piled high with, ahem,
used toilet tissue,
last changed in 1909

Glorious relief is redefined


Upon Stealing Butterflies from the Conservatory

It seized her soul so
that she closed their delicate wings in a jar
and let them loose in
the bigger cage of her home.
Doesn’t she know beauty must be free
or it dies
dried and still
in the window’s diluted light? 




Can I do this?

What am I doing—

A mark, an impact. 

Why me? 

I can create 

          but will people see it?

Are they ready?

AM I ready?

What if they don’t like what they see?



Susan M. Stephens

small town god commands

squash those frivolous
ambitions back in
their sausage casing
before they leave
greasy impressions too
slick to expunge



On nights like these
I cherish dirty dishes
Caked with grease and mold
The kind I can really grind a sponge into
Watch it dissolve under my scalded hand
A job well done
                              I’m lax with the crumbs though
They scurry between the cabinets, under the oven
                     Specks of spice sheltered just out of sight
                                 Saved for another day’s frustration

I celebrated another year of work
Coralling a poor bird
That had taken up residence in a desk plant
He looked flustered and resigned
With an expression that screamed,
“Don’t project your shit on me human”
I appreciated his candor and set him free
With enough time to make the meeting no less
Turns out that promotion might be pushed back a little
                                                But once that baby hits, whoo!
Sounds like a solid paycheck to me

I spent a third of one
On the best headphones I could justify
With a flick of a switch I can remove myself
From a screaming cat outside the bedroom door
An incosiderate neighbor doing doughnuts around others’ lives
                                           Hollow words from well-meaning friends
Sometimes gentle words from you
but hey
We’ve still got enough
For groceries and rent

“I don’t think I can be enough for you”
I’m not even close to being enough for myself
So what chance does anyone else have?


Canine Companion

Back for a weekend at my parents’
(the place where we both grew up)
Kita and I walk the gravel drive.
She bolts off. Before she can get caught
in the barbed wire fence, I ease
into locking the length of her leash.
She freezes. Across the field
Maggie, who looks like Mollie
(who was an Aussie-Collie
and Kita’s canine companion
until a car hit her one Black
Friday night five years ago)
peeks at Kita through the gaps
of a red steel gate that separates
Kurt’s yard from his vacant cow pasture.
Maggie barks a minute, then turns
away, retreats to her own porch.
Kita stares after.


Talking Heads

Talking heads comment on talking heads’ skill
at gaslighting gaslit gasbags’ swill
no one knows one reason to try
to do something other than butter up lies.