poetryrepairs 16.02:017

DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : At Nightfall
DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet) : Post-Mortem

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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)
At Nightfall

While a June bug fizzes in her moist palm, A child collects needles from a hemlock. From a half-empty well, a woman summons water As a cat troubles a bucket of tadpoles. Drowsy bullfrogs bellow from the swamp's edge. While a dog wrestles ears of corn from their stalks, A boy roams hillside and hollow for wayward cattle, And a possum gnaws bones a dog disowned. Black walnut trees pummel tin with thick-hulled fruit. Girls return from town to strip their sugar-starched crinolines While a rusted Mercury pities the pallid leaves Of the sapling growing in its engine’s empty cradle. As long as trees lose leaves in summer, As long as winters are gentle, As long as the moon can glow like fever, Family and farm will be heedful. Those who witness the clamor Of rust-colored wings, are wary, Always watchful of wrinkled eggshells, For blight at the border of natural law. The man milling corn carries shamans’ blood But cannot master the art from bean fields, or coal, or from the handfuls of dry land fish1 His children gather. On the evening the red hen crows, His wife and children watch him corner the creature, Wring its neck, and burn its body to break the omen.

1 Another name for a morel mushroom.

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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)
Post-Mortem

One night in winter seized you as your breath rimed the dusk. I turned and found you sprawled on snow, searching for Venus, lying for a moment. I asked you, the air nipping my syllables, and you said nothing was broken. During our courtship of bluffs and unmarked trails, I sometimes fell, breathless, beside you and giggling at the bitterness of gravity, while you fixed your footing beyond a bloodless hurt. My hand found yours, and you rose—limping, sullen. For days you wandered the house, still shocked the world could blunder beneath your step. Between your shunted breath and my voice, her constellation cracked open the heavens. Ten billion snowflakes pillowed you in affections of ice and starlight and affirmed your hand in mine a fugitive miracle.

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DeANNA STEPHENS
Poet's Statement

DeANNA STEPHENS holds an MFA from George Mason University. Her poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared most recently in Canadian Woman Studies and Opium Magazine. She teaches writing and literature at Roane State Community College in Crossville, Tennessee. Artist’s Statement: The confluence of landscape and personal mythologies fascinates me. Because culture and topography are intimately connected, my poems find themselves rooted in hollows and bluffs or sprouting from the familiarity of living rooms, bedrooms, grocery store aisles—the niches of everyday life that harbor interior landscapes of symbol and intuition. Much of my work explores the contributions of landscape to one’s sense of cultural belonging or displacement and reaches beyond immediate description to the legends, history, and even to the scientific speculation that various landscapes inspire. The speakers and characters in my poems seem to confront, some more readily than others, doubts and desires whose acknowledgement could grant them tranquility, even if their situations deny them a satisfying resolution. Each poem’s narrative strives to relate the personalized and often fragmented mythologies formed in modern life to those predecessors whose themes persist across time. JH: I love Stephens’ line from ‘Nightfall,’ “a cat troubles a bucket of tadpoles.” It is a theory of landscape and a severe reduction of what a landscape is/does. Landscape is human- made (‘bucket’), a part from an unstated whole that is natural (cat and tadpoles); both natural and mad-made are contrary, covering an emotional appeal (‘troubles’) and implying a protagonist and antagonist, thus a narrative. One can’t ask for a better summation of landscape as poetic device.




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DeANNA STEPHENS (Featured Poet)

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