Rejection Anthology

Three Poems

S T E P H A N I E   L .   H A R P E R


Your laugh is the child I never knew                                                                             

a promise kept nascent like a crocus
beneath a winter of detritus –

I never knew a crocus
could reword the daylight
with Spring’s first mist

How I’d wished the earth’s iron bellows                                                                                                                           

  would recast the sky’s crimson artefacts                                                                    

my lost will had smelted into slag,

                         until living through my bitterest nights
of seismic heartbeats weathered into stalagmites
                                             finally tempered my breaths alive!

              Now, their embers light my way
to the tenderness you well in your eyes:

                                              Amassed like snowdrifts
               the rising moon velvets in her white hush,
                                        it is the naked quiet of us

the daylight

ash branches
                                       lustered with dusk’s winter cloak;

                  a crocus sheltered in warm mulch
                                       beneath the moonlit ice;

                 the child I never knew;

                 a promise kept
                                      nascent in winter’s womb.


When this restrictive skin
of self-pity refuses to slough off
& relinquish its groaning contents my pain

sends me to my prehistoric depths—
sliding through my black encapsulated veins
with questions of necessity forking my tongue

into a device primed for maximal receptivity
scouring the fossil record
for evidence of fortitude where I find you

fifty-eight million years ago
at the height of your dominion
in the Cerrejón Rain Forest in what is now

an arid sweep of Northern Colombia

There your legacy swims its secrets
into my stagnant heart transforms my
mudstone back into supple blood

& re-designs me in your magnificent image
that I may waggle my muscled girth
into a forty-eight-foot-long series of esses

effortlessly conveyed upon the swamp’s
vast network of currents slip out
of my twisted anthropic pelvis

& encumbering limbs & vanquish
gravity’s inflammatory breath
in the clutches of my cold unshakable coils


Going the way of ancient alphabets lost,
the marriage left wordless, untended, gets lost.

No more one formed of two, two disparate silhouettes
surrender to the sun when the stillborn moon sets, lost.

Worn-out, unaware as an un-raveled thread, or the sad Anapest
of a moth-eaten coat, is the ghost long ago to epithets lost.

Immersed in insouciance liquid courage abets,
he drifts on a river of unnamed regrets, lost.

Moored to the flotsam of un-payable debts,
I wake, blink in the fog, find all my bets lost.

Photo by Eva Elijas

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