poetryrepairs 16.02:014

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : Valentine’s Dance
DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : Fortune of the Stem

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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)
Valentine’s Dance

The deejay sets diamond to groove. It’s rasping is a fulcrum, tilting the rafters, twinkle-lighting bleachers, merging the moon with the free throw circle I spin from, and mingling my sequins with the lobby’s blush from Coke machines. The darkest vein siphons me down a channel of louvered lockers, slicing the music’s rhythm into kisses, chained, each to the next, along my neck and arms, while my pulse pummels steel and the classrooms’ heavy wooden doors. We bypass the basement’s yellow sign blaring asbestos and far-flung hazards— still hearing the dregs of exit, locker doors slamming to quicken the wheels of buses, all things that turn too slowly. Darkness is the sternum of the final bell. Turn the knob to home ec and witness the bolt disappear. Out, it is brusque as a hatchet blade. My fingers test the edge and slip inside, where it darkens and whiffs of blackened cookies whose edges could slice a sweetheart’s tongue. My date draws the door open wider, and we enter a variation of night, iniquitous with the union of chalk dust and sugar. The blade scuffs my hand, “barks” it, as my mother would say, as if all girls are redbuds and I a myth. A jagged filigree of blood rises, while leaves shudder the street-lamp phosphorescence. Not diamonds, or needles on vinyl. I think of naked trees, instead, and chocolate and feral dogs. The deejay’s juggled rhythms spawn a baying pack outside the door. My vision adjusts to see the boy lift my wounded hand to his mouth and pink and red paper hearts on string, flash love down either side of the hall. How can I survive the many keen edges chaperones and principals deny in the sockets of doors, lockers, periphery of paper? In the kindly duplicity of the teacher’s desk drawer linger scissors maneuvered to sharpen those hearts.

poetryrepairs #221 16.02:014





DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)
Fortune of the Stem

Red apples, green apples spin in the grasp of girls invoking ABCs, each letter fruit undone from their stems, forcasting the names of husbands. The oldest quibbles with quarter-turns or milks a single revolution to bask in the name of her crush. She chants the alphabet backward, commences midway, and invites the initial of a secret name. And headstones lean too heavy for the weary old wives who know each apple’s revolution is an orbit winding closer to the age when sound and meaning were one, when Adam breathed his claim on creatures—touching and taming with an utterance for each. And Eve? She whispered to leaves and christened each vine and tree by tasting. Wise women in graves turn backs on girls who pledge their hands, their hearts, their progeny to the charms of oblivious boys, girls clutching apples, bright and sweet. Frayed stems the hems and strings of their mother’s aprons. Girls never know that stems unfurl, disclosing devotion’s austerity: a spectral river rising to baptize confessions, chores, daydreams in simplicities of sunlight and fruit, the pairing of breath with a husband’s. Castoff stems yield to chickens’ pecking and startle the eye holes of porch planks. Smallest sister, always echoing, elects an apple the yellow jackets praise. She lets the stem unravel when ready, her lips an open calyx, expecting an augury untaught in church, the shrewdness arising from graves.

poetryrepairs #221 16.02:014





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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)


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