On D-Block & Sea and Salt

Behind the wired window drinking grape juice women swoon to the gospel oxidized like corked wine On D-Block we write letters Dear bud of forsythia Dear love Dear fetus Salutations pour from us like wine We watch each other cradle our cloth and clothespin dolls […]

What Belongs

The cardinals built their nest in the cow’s skull tucked into       brain cavity today is the day of fledglings testing pinion strength of warmth creeping through roots steam whisping above not-so-gold-carp pond ++++++++++++++++++++babies venture out through eye sockets arboreal dreams ++++++inherited desire gives them lift but maybe they have no thought to question from where? […]

Ode on Datura

Drink this tea, he said, and you will fly naked into starlight. I drank, felt tired, and sat on the couch and ate potato chips. Drink this tea and you will not know yourself. We drove along the freeway by your old school, without direction or speed as light raptured down through barred clouds scudding […]

The House on Tator Hill

All night the wind strummed the shingles, while I slept with my jaw like a fist. She wanted sex first thing in the morning to the rhythm of the percolator’s clicks. Her aunt had a real Chagall hanging over the piano. She stocked the freezer with Grey Goose, then traveled for months. We claimed the […]

What can I tell you (an Ars Poetica)

What can I tell you? I confess from you I learned sweat is poison as well as nectar, & there is no good word for how I linger as you exhale. I confess I am a cracked mirror, & you are a stone, a bird, starlight tickling the fractures. From you I learned jilting doesn’t require […]

The Egypt of Mary’s Womb

A small town.  A back door. A young woman at her work chopping, searing, holding. A flash, not so much of light, as the chorus of sight that light trails as it passes by.  A strange word, an aspiration, a slight bow of the head, a warm wrapping of wings. There will be lions, later. […]


Days were short and buckled, the dinner to prepare, our table to set, cream and tan plumage to fan in a gold-rimmed goblet, hint of flight.  Together we hunted wild turkey feathers, tracked hay fields where flocks lumbered in summer, walked a trail over to the next road, followed it past the last house as […]

When You Ask Me to Describe the Grief

 (after Clementine von Radics) I open my mouth & nothing comes out—I think, chest caving in, robber of breath, thunderbolted knees hitting the bathroom floor but it felt more like tumbling down a staircase into the basement of a heart that no longer relays rhythm, my shoveled out stomach— a hearse, a grave, a place […]


I drive my mother home because the train is late, because her hands shake, because my brother doing push-ups after he lost a bet had all of us fearing the explosion in his chest and what are family reunions for? Food.  Too much wine.  A kickball in the gut. When I pulled the folding chair […]

Baltimore is Burning

and my students don’t know a thing about it Ronnie K. Stephens is a full-time English teacher and the father of identical twins. His first full-length collection, Universe in the Key of Matryoshka, was published by Timber Mouse Publishing in 2014.


Three a.m., and night is an oil spill seeped down to the benthic zone. The way a man-of-war is simultaneously individual and colony, I am wide-awake and exhausted. My head, sunken into the pillow, fills with ideas, insights, plans, and epiphanies like the gold coins and suits of armor stuffed inside a seafloored shipwreck. I […]

Tracing Wrist Scars

I used to keep exquisite potted plants. Now, just pots of dirt. My friend Meghann keeps pots of dirt. One with a ceramic hand creeping out, another, a foot. Funny, the things we covet. I only learned to begin wanting again recently. I don’t know where to place my wants. How to justify them, or […]


Prayer flags heave like healthy lungs beneath a five colored sheet. Wind is implied. Or breath. Healing. But definitely movement. All the weightless things around us convulse into terrible ghosted forms, then return to their tenacious dangling. The world ages at the rate we expect it to. We are not so fortunate as cricket legs […]