The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma

by Stephen Page

            Saturday, I wake at 5 a.m., prepare my coffee, sip a cup, open all the window blinds in the house, then prepare breakfast for Teresa and me. I eat, but Teresa does not wake until 11 a.m. She is depressed and sleeps sometimes 11 or 12 hours a night. Well, that gives me time to write, read a bit, think about my book project and how to develop it to an end.  I turn on the news and Tyrant Reginald says, “I am the least racist person I know!” Reminds me of a friend who once told me, “I am the humblest person I know.”

            After noon, we drive into town and lunch at La Chaise, at a table in the open garden, the flowers intoxicating our olfactories, the birds choralling Brahms, Wagner, Mozart, some tunes written by others but sung by the Tabernacle Choir, and an occasional background riff from Mick Taylor. 

            The lunch of fish soup and brazed chicken covered in broccoli is exquisite, but the bald headed, sun blotched waiter keeps standing six feet away with his mask on and rattling on the whole time we ate, gossiping about this person and that person. My wife gossips with him, like she always does.  Why do people want to talk so much? Don’t they want to look up at the pines swaying under the blue sky and contemplate existence? Or, at least, don’t they want to leave me and my wife alone to talk with ourselves? I mean, that is why we came here alone, not just because of the virus, but because we are together? Right? I mean, a couple together should be able to take a bite or two of food, sip a little wine, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes, and speak silently if not out loud about their lives and how lucky they are to be together here in this paradise. Jeez!

            The sun is stronger than usual, and the asinine waiter’s droning is making me ill, so Teresa drives me home, drops me off, then goes errand shopping alone. I nap an hour or so, then when I hear her return, I rise to help her unload the car of groceries. I turn on the T.V. for our regular virus-time recreation, T.V. I find a documentary titled, “The Social Dilemma.” Teresa does not care for it. She mumbles something ´bout, “We live in a social dilemma,” and goes to bed.

read the story on Flash Fiction North here:


An evening of flash fiction with Carrie Cooperider, Amber Caron, Dan McDermott, Jessica Danger, Libby Flores, and Stephen Page.

Tuesday, November 23rd  –  7pm est

Facebook Live
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Join tonight’s friendly and accomplished writers: Carrie Cooperider, Amber Caron, Dan McDermott, Jessica Danger, Libby Flores, and Stephen Page.

V. Hansmann, host 


Part 3: The Poets of 2021 Must Read Poetry, Prose, Sonnets & Short Stories Links

“Wine” by Stephen Page

Happy Sunday, everyone!
Issue 3 is ready and available to download at our website:! (Stephen Page’s poem is on page 50). We can’t begin to express how wonderful this issue was to put together. We had the largest number of submissions yet, and we hope to maintain that trend as we continue towards Issue 4.
To that effect, we wanted to let you all know personally that we’ll be shifting the length of our submission window from three months to two months. It will give us a month extra to read through submissions and devote the care and time to laying out the magazine.
If you’re interested in submitting again, we open for Issue 4 submissions on December 1st. Keep an eye on our website and Instagram (@lastleavesmag) for information on the theme!
Our sincerest thanks for your continued support and patience. It means the world to use every time we receive a submission, and the kindness from every submitter is what truly drives this volunteer project forward.
Thank you again, and we hope you have a safe, happy Halloween if you’re out there celebrating.

Last Leaves Editors
The editors are: Cailey Johanna Thiessen, Kiera S. Baron, and Maina Chen. | Instagram: @lastleavesmag

Stephen Page’s poem is on page 50.

Stephen Page is part Native American. He was born in Detroit. He is the author of A Ranch Bordering the Salty River, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and The Salty River Bleeds. He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College. He likes dog-earing pages in books.

Here are the editors’ blogs:,, and

Stephen Page is part Native American. He was born in Detroit. He is the author of A Ranch Bordering the Salty River, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and The Salty River Bleeds. He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College. He likes dog-earing pages in books.

Crossing the Desert Linguistically

After pilgrimaging from different locations across time and space, the prophets sit in a circle in a desert, their burnt naked feet tucked up under their thighs. They have suffered all the ailments known and unknown to Homo sapiens.  They all tongue different languages, different dialogues of the same language, differently evolved versions of the same language, dead languages, or languages derived from other dimensions – which from one mind to another translate to the One language. They are understood by each other. They vote and agree to give the gift of poetry to Kaveh Akbar.

Venturing Into A Dangerous Place

A woman rides a buffalo while geese fly overhead. She parks her ride in front of a coffee shop. She struts inside. She has not been inside a café since the illness began. She orders a pumpkin spice latte, an orange juice, and a bass fish sandwich. She opens her e-reader. She begins reading “A Dangerous Place” by Chelsea B. DesAutels. The coffee is lukewarm. The poetry is so hot it scalds her hands.

dad about the author:

Chelsea B. DesAutels is a poet living in Minneapolis. Her debut poetry collection, A Dangerous Place, is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in October 2021. Chelsea’s work appears in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Adroit Journal, Massachusetts Review, Willow Springs, Pleiades, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. A Tin House Scholar, winner of the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize from the Missouri Review, and a National Poetry Series finalist, Chelsea earned her MFA from the University of Houston, where she was the recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry and served as Poetry Editor of Gulf Coast.  She has received support from the Anderson Center at Tower View, Vermont Studio Center, Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference, Community of Writers, and others.

Some of the many places Chelsea has called home include South Dakota, New York, Minnesota, and Texas. In addition to her MFA, Chelsea holds degrees from the University of Minnesota Law School and Wellesley College. You can find her on Twitter @cbdesautels.

Living Room Lollipops, Oddball Magazine — Rustin Larson They have canceled everythingso they can stay in powerthe up has been antednegative rain and socksthat won’t stay on my feet…

Living Room Lollipops, Oddball Magazine — Rustin Larson

Backstory of the Poem: Stephen Page’s “I Was a Soldier”

baa baa black sheep, two black sheep in a field, a mother and lamb

#329 Backstory of the Poem: Stephen Page’s “I Was a Soldier”:

Preview: Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?  I had been administrating/managing an eco-ranch/farm for several months, and working in and around fields of grass (which were free-grazed by cattle, sheep, horses, and chickens), fallow fields, fields kept free to grow wild, wood patches, ponds, streams, swamps, and a large salty river that bordered the land—all filled with indigenous flora and fauna—which, as a poet, gave me plenty to be inspired about.  This poem came to me and spilled out on paper through a pen in one complete draft during a day I had been working with the people—the employees, neighbors, and business partners—most all of who had different ethical values than people I had grown up around. These new people were horse thieves, cattle rustlers, malingerers, liars, contract manipulators, and behaved in manners that were less than honest. I had to learn very quickly the art of negotiation (arguing intelligently and fearlessly), and to supervise without appearing to micromanage or look like I was spying (unless it was over one of the bad guys), which sometimes made me feel guilty (for being a hard-a**), even though I was legally and morally in the right. This poem metaphorically reveals how I felt I (or better worded, how the main fictional character in the book felt) had behaved those first few months keeping the ranch profitable, free of bad guys, and eco-friendly.  The poem figuratively reflects a fictional character influencing the unethicals to act honestly, treat the animals mercifully—the old way of ranching was very cruel to animals, and keep the ranch/farm part wildlife refuge, part indigenous flora reserve, and free of harmful pesticides and herbicides.

*read the rest of the interview here:

When Stephen Page is not writing, reading, spending time with his spouse, communing with nature, or walking his dog, he is either accidentally on purpose losing his cell phone or making noise with his electric bass. He is part Apache, part Shawnee, part Mexican, part English, part Scottish, and part Irish. He wanders off a lot during social gatherings, showing up hours later at home.

CHRISTAL ANN RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.

Finishing Line Press