2019 Pushcart Prize Nominations

Page’s Writing is as Gritty as the Sandy Prairie

Review: The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page

Length: 96 Pages

Publisher: Finishing Line Press

Get your copy on Amazon! 


The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page is a story told in verse about the lives of Jonathan and Teresa and the ranch on which they live. Using both poetry and poetic prose, the author makes the story come to life.

Page’s writing is as gritty as the sandy prairie and he does not shy away from coarse language or difficult topics. Page has created something raw and gritty that is full of local flavor. The reader can feel the heat of the pounding sun and smell the scent of the farm animals. Life on the ranch is hard and oftentimes painful; as such, Page’s writing will cause readers who would prefer to imagine an idealized version of the American West to be uncomfortable. His writing forces his readers to reckon with the harsh realities of life and how we treat the environment.

As the story progresses, the protagonist must deal with both the daily challenges of life on the ranch as well as his own internal struggles. There are no easy answers, and as such, the book leaves the reader with an unsettled feeling. It is this same discomfort that makes the book so powerful and so memorable. I found myself slowly reading and rereading Page’s words as I worked to understand their multiple layered meanings. In the end, Page takes his reader on a journey into America’s heartland as well as into our problematic past. Is there a future for Jonathan, Teresa, and their ranch? Or will the Salty River, along with the rest of the natural world, continue to bleed?

Damage Repair

Hammer of God by Aria Ligi

Review by Stephen Page

76 pages

Poetic Justice Books


Damage Repair

There are many topics covered in this exemplary collection of poems, “Hammer of God” by Aria Ligi—damage, pain, acceptance, healing, and moving on (but not necessarily in that order). There is a back and forth, a skipping around of steps in the healing processes, as there are in any PTSD recovery process. Each section in the collection has its own internal processes order, and each section is in itself a process.

Mx. Ligi’s poems are laudable, her story-telling prophetic, her subject matter empathic and impactive. There are scenes in the book that will shock you, relate to you, or remind you that we live in an imperfect, violent world.  This is a book that should be read by everyone, not only for Ligi’s assonantal singing, but to give hope to those who have lost hope.

*Find her book on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and her website: https://arialigi.com

Bio: Aria Ligi is an award-winning poet who has a great love for history and in particular the English Romantics. Her publications include, but are not limited to, The Scarlett Leaf Review, Z Publication’s New York’s Best Emerging Poets anthology, Light Journal, and the Australian Times. She has been a frequent guest on Progressive News Network’s Blog Talk Radio, and Aeon Byte. Currently, she and is the Senior Poetry Editor at October Hill Magazine.





Salty, Earthy and Thoughtful

The Salty River Bleeds” by Stephen Page

Review by Aria Ligi

Page’s collection, Salty River Bleeds, is a two-part parable, one of the lives of Jonathon and Teresa and the other of his ranch, its inhabitants, the environ consisting of his cows, sheep, ibis and such and their struggle against the exteriors (man encroaching on them all). Yet, it is also, as he pictures so beautifully, mirrored with Old Man, who through the simple the challenge of living day to day, is a metaphor for it all. Pages’ work embodies very Campbellesque qualities of the myth told within the confines of free verse, epistles, and alternatively spiced with rhyme. Page is not only a mythmaker he is rancher poet-activist who is wise enough to question his place within the tale, that of hunter and farmer, while portraying in stark terms the cost to those around him from his livestock to the earth, air, those who would shepherd it, and those who would seek to profit from it. This is a fascinating read because it does not shy away from depicting the most hideous of things, such as the roof of a truck slicing through a man’s neck, nor does it distance itself from the beauty that is all around him. Yet, Page does not leave it there, because at the end he returns us to his quiet pondering, that of Teresa and Old Man, leaving us with the mirror image for us all and the unsaid question, are we all not walking that same road, and in that are we not all one and the same?

Publisher – Finishing Line Press

Order book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or straight from the publisher.

Special: Hen Eggs by Stephen Page

Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog

Hen Eggs

by Stephen Page

I wake up late in the morning, ten o’clock,

to the shouts of children in the living

room. I feel like sleeping more, but stir and robe

myself to stumble to the kitchen to pour

my first cup of coffee. The smell is rich

as bramble, but before I can sip into

lucidity the screams of my three-year-old

grandchild and four of her friends headache me to

shower where I wash away last night’s dream.

I dress and backpack and ready to tramp

to the Wood to find the Myth, but my wife,

who is watching the kids, is called

by the capataz to come look at the cows,

so she asks me to babysit until she returns.

I never asked to be a grandfather, nor responsibly

a father, but here I am, married to a woman

I love, a widow, a mother whose daughter

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Stories that Explode into Song

The Salty River Bleeds

Review by Carole T. Beers

5.0 out of 5 stars

Stephen Page’s poems are dynamite! The imagery, rhythm and story sing. That they tell deep stories of a land and its inhabitants is a bonus!

Stephen Page Finishing Line Press #CaroleTbeers


Beautiful River – Old Man Walking

Read Douglas’s 5-star review of The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page

Stephan Page’s beautiful The Salty River Bleeds contains a series of portraits of rural, small town ranch people with just the right amount of surreal, dream-like strangeness to make us ask while we walk through these scenes, what’s really happening here? A good question, and I suspect one Page wants us to ask when we see the “teenage daughter/standing on the porch with her arm in a sling” (17), or when we see Old Man “walking,/always walking.” But clear and true within this collection is an eye that sees unflinchingly not just that “blackness veins its cloud/like a smoker’s x-ray,” (18) and the “dead body…not the head” (48), the rough and mundane and violent and predictable but also the beauty of “Ponies and calves leaping about/as if celebrating the survival of another day.” And that’s what we do, in “the river hued red.”


Special to This Blog – A Stephen Page Poem – A Sonnet From “The Timbre of Sand”

Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog

A Muddy River

by Stephen Page

You are red-breasted, your song flute-like,
Your wings brown, your sharp eyes whitely circled.
A common day your voice makes remarkable;
So rare, you laid a single light blue egg.
As your mate vanished in northern flight,
Not perceiving reason, you cawed alarm
Plummeting before an olive-drab truck;
Callused-index-fingered riders caged you.
Escaping, you darted directly to a lawn
And plucked a burrowing worm; starving, you bore it
To your nestling, ravenous for her breath.
Your albino fledgling shudders on the edge
Of the nest, as summer winds sway the tree,
And below, a muddy river roars silently.

This poem was originally published in “The Timbre of Sand.”

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