Your Violet Hair Ribbon

“Your Violet Hair Ribbon” by Stephen Page

Last night you slept with your head on my chest,

My nose in your hair.

While I dozed the violet ribbon upon my wrist

Broke and fell off. This morning I searched for it

But could not find it, anywhere. I tied a new one

To my ankle. Hid another in my journal cover.

Did you have the same dream I did last night,

You with your head on your husband’s chest,

My wife with hers on mine?

madswirl editor’s note: A ribbon of deception; identities mistaken, lovers mismatched. So hard to awaken… – mh clay

To read MORE mad poetry, visit http://www.MadSwirl.com!

http://madswirl.com/poetry/2019/08/your-violet-hair-ribbon/

As published on MadSwirl

And included in the book, “The Salty River Bleeds,” by Stephen Page https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/the-salty-river-bleeds-by-stephen-page/ and published by Finishing Line Press.

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Poetry Mini Interviews by Thomas Whyte with Stephen Page (Part 1)

http://poetryminiinterviews.blogspot.com/2019/08/stephen-page-part-one.html?m=1

Essays on Writing

If you teach poetry or creative writing at the introductory level (high school or universty), and are interested in using an anthology for you or your students to use during the semester this coming fall or spring, consider this fine collection of essays: https://www.blacklawrence.com/far-villages-welcome-essays-for-new-and-beginner-poets/

#FarVillages #essaysOnWriting #BlackLawrencePress #AbayomiAnimashaun #DianeGoettel

Stephen Page has won the First Place Award in Poetry for the 2019 Bravura Literary Journal.

Dear Stephen,

Congratulations! We are delighted to inform you that your piece “In the Room of the Dead” has won the first place award in Poetry for the 2019 Bravura Literary Journal.

As a recipient of this award, please understand that this is an incredible accomplishment. From the competitive pool of over 500 submissions, not only was your piece selected for publication, but it also earned the esteemed honor of taking first place in its category.

Congratulations on Your Momentous Achievement,

2019 Editors of Bravura

the literary journal of Palomar College

Noctua Review XII (with a poem by Stephen Page)

Noctua Review issue XIII

Below is the link for the digital issue of Noctua Review. Check it out!!

https://issuu.com/noctuareview/docs/noctua_review_vol._xii_issuu

With a poem on page 37 by Stephen Page, entitled “Parrot Plague,” which by the way, will be included in a book by Stephen Page to be released later this year.

corn cropParrot Eating Corn

(Photo of parrot courtesy of 123RF)

Noctua Header

(Cover and bird super mobile courtesy of Noctua Review)

October, by Louise Glück

October
By Louise Glück
Quarterback Chapbook Series
Sarabande Books. $8.95. 20 pages.
Reviewed by Stephen Page

Autumn After the Fall

October CoverWhile I as reading Louise Glück’s chapbook “October”, I noted a theme that threaded throughout the poem–aftermath. October has always been a special month for me. A time of change. A time of clarity. It begins with the autumnal colors in full show and ends with the trees bare and sometimes a first snowfall. I remember October well when I was growing up. It was a month of crystal cognizance. The air smelled of damp earth and drying leaves. Each breath I took cleared my mind and brought in focus my sense of being with the world. I felt good. But, there was also this lurking feeling of finality. Another year had passed. Summer was over.  I often asked myself, had I done what I wanted to do this past year, or was I in the same place is was last year? Had I accomplished what I needed to accomplish? Most often, I had mixed feelings, yeses and no’s, a sort of sweet melancholy–sad that the year was over but happy that another year was about to begin. I had another year to do what I wanted to do. Yes, as a child, the New Year was always in October, not in January. It was an end, and a beginning. Winter was on the way and, yes, it would be cold. There would be snow. But, snow to me meant snowball fights, snowmen, snow angels, snow-caves cut out in the banks on the side of the road that the snowplows piled up, and of course, snow days—those special breaks from school. Winter represents death to many people, but it meant fun and rest for me. Trees, plants, grass–they weren’t dead, they were just resting, sleeping late, waiting to wake up in spring and flourish in summer. After winter, there was spring and summer vacations, baseball, girls.

Life on earth is measured in seasons and renews itself yearly. For Glück, as I think it is for most North–Hemispherians, October is a sad month, but one that also has hope.

Part I of “October” goes like this:

It is winter again, is it cold again,
didn’t frank just slip on the ice,
didn’t he heal, weren’t the spring seeds planted

didn’t the nether end,
didn’t the melting ice
flood the narrow gutters

wasn’t my body
rescued wasn’t it safe

didn’t the scar form, invisible
above the injury

terror and cold,
didn’t they just end, wasn’t the back garden
harrowed and planted—

I remember how the earth felt, red and dense,
in stiff rows, weren’t the seeds planted,
didn’t the vines climb down the south wall

I can’t hear your voice
for the wind’s cries, whistling over the bare ground

I can no longer care
what sounds it makes

when I was silenced, when did it first seem
pointless to describe that sound

what it sounds like can’ change what it is—

didn’t the night end, wasn’t the earth
safe when it was planted

didn’t we plant the seeds,
weren’t we necessary to the earth,

the vines, were they harvested?

Something obviously traumatic has passed here. A scar has formed, terror has happened, something was planted but is no longer there (and I think it is more than just plants in the garden) for the “wind whistled over the bare ground.” The narrator was devastated by an occurrence, so much so she was “silenced.” Most notable is the poem’s form—short lines, long sentences—making the poem appear tall.

The entire poem continues like that–short lines, tall poem. And the there is a horrible sensation of after-violation sliding down the poem:

Violence has changed me . . . (repeated twice in part II)
everything that was taken away . . .
you can’t touch my body now.
It has changed once, it has hardened . . .
My body has grown cold . . .
balm after violence . . .
Tell me I am living,
I won’t believe you.
Death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me . . .
the light has changed . . .
you will not be spared . . .
the unspeakable//has entered them . . .
I strained, I suffered . . .
So much has changed . . .

Yes, something has happened, and I don’t just think it is the harvest. Because of the form of the poem, and some of Glück’s references, it seems something very tall has come down, or collapsed. Something that was once there no longer is:

They eye gets used to disappearances . . .
Above the fields,
above the roofs of the village houses,
the brilliance that made all life possible
Become the cold stars.

Glück might be talking about an object, a tall structure (or structures, if you notice the plural is used in the relation between the words “disappearances” and “become”), or she might be talking about ideals (as she refers to often in part IV). She might be talking about both. Whatever the case, she uses the barren-field association of the month of October as representation of something monumental that no longer exists on the horizon. A careful reader will note that October obviously comes after September, and that two monumental somethings fell once in the month of  September.  Glück does spy a kind of hope though, as she leaves the poem on a positive note

my friend the moon rises:
she is beautiful tonight, but when is she not beautiful?

This Review first published in: Gently Read Literature

Read the review on the Issuu site: Gently Read Literature Issuu and turn to page 18.

The Salty River

madswirl logo black background

STEPHEN PAGE

The Salty River

featured in the poetry forum September 14, 2018  :: 0 comments

I was standing on a grassy hill
overlooking The Salty River
that winds and flows
along Santa Ana’s North-Western border.
The sun was about to set
and the star was turning orange.
The Ponies and The Calves were leaping about
as if celebrating the survival of another day.
The corn was knee high, and the wheat fields
were shorn to short stalks that looked
like the three-day blond stubble of a recently shaped beard.
Birds were chirping and singing
like they too were reveling in the End.
The Cultivators were nowhere to be seen,
their noxious machinery fumes and pesticides
not clouding the air or poisoning the Earth.
The Gauchos were all in their homes
with their families, eating, or drinking mate.

Just as the sun disappeared over the horizon,
The Pink Flamingoes in the river hued red.

editors note:To look upon a scene; to be the scene; the scene in you; belonging… – mh clay

Another Week Begins

featured in the poetry forum February 11, 2018  :: 0 comments

When Jonathan turns off the highway the mud
in the road is a foot deep. He clicks his vehicle
into 4-wheel drive and creeps forward in first gear
so not to slide into one of the ditches. The white gates
of his ranch are open, El Misionero standing next
to them. He rolls his window down and sighs. The air
smells green. Green. Green.

He drives to his office and talks with his capataz,
then they climb in the ranch pickup to go see a calf
cadaver. It was born early that morning with a curled-
neck deformity, and unable to reach its mother’s tit
or the water trough, it just stumbled around awhile and fell
on its side. The gauchos had skinned it and the vultures picked
it mostly clean, the eyes plucked out, the tongue sliced in half,
bits of intestine lying next to the spine, the heart and lungs mush
under the gristly ribs.

They drive to the Yellow House casco to see a pony cadaver.
Apparently, last night it leaped the fence around the
swimming pool and fell in the water. It lay on its side
on the grass where the yardkeeper placed it, its legs
stiff in the curled positions of swimming, yellow froth
tubed out of its nostrils. It was only three-weeks old.

Jonathan goes for a long walk, alone — he admires
the greening grass, the knee-high wheat, the sprouting corn,
the blooming chamomile, the calves and ponies leaping about
pastures spotted white with egrets.

He hears bees buzzing, mockingbirds singing —
and he keeps walking, walking; walking
past the pastures, past the Wood,
until he enters a fallow field.

As he approaches a small marsh
a flock of black ibis lift
and cloud away.

editors note:Like any week, we walk through cadavers to stand free. – mh clay

Transformations

featured in the poetry forum October 19, 2016  :: 1 comment

The weight of grass is heavy
Upon my shoulders; lift it,

Scythe is, mow it, let the cattle
Feed that I may walk again.

I sit upon a log in the shade
Of Wood. I sip mate.

I visit Buenos Aires and lie
In bed all day and watch cartoons.

I just want to sleep in
One Saturday, One Monday.

I want the Field Crossers
To stop trampling the grass,

To stop walking across my back
When they think I am napping:

Don’t they know the padlock turns
Are all numbered and recorded?

Editor, Advisor, stop planting corn
When I want my fields clovered.

I want again my daily strolls
In the quiet of Wood,

To watch for hours the bumblebees work
And lock eyes with the mockingbird.

editors note:Clover over corn? Yes! (This poem is a fine one of the mad many included in Stephen’s new collection, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River, published by Finishing Line Press. Get it here.) – mh clay

Satellites

featured in the poetry forum June 29, 2016  :: 0 comments

The tree frogs called the rain last night,
but the rain did not answer.
The intermittent croaking, about
every hour or so, was followed by
a gust of wind and the scent
of water, but no sprinkle, no pour.

The new gaucho, an angelic Moral
who rides our horse to sores,
has dried the soy beans not yet
planted. He horns the sun and peels
paint from his home.

Twenty millemeters of rain is not
forty nine, even with the north
wind. Two plastic gauges announce
the Tattler’s arrival in the park.

The newer gaucho, taller, broader
shouldered than the Angel
shunned away, suffers the sun
of unshaded twenty-one with
a smile and shovel-blistered hands
(but later became the Excuse Maker).

Just one day of the computer-
promised rain should soften the earth
and shoot the canal
full of internet cable, that is,
if the flexible orange pipe is found
on time.

With each truck that passes lot
three, earth crumbles and narrows
the road. We hope that the Three
barricade that which blackened
and thinned the cows.

I will the odometer to quit
increasing exponentially, and the bushes
Teresa planted not to yellow near
our home.

editors note:Atmospheric conditions unaffected angelically. (Congrats to Stephen on the imminent release of his new book, “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.” Learn more about it and reserve your order here.) – mh clay

In the Local News

featured in the poetry forum September 25, 2015  :: 0 comments

Friday, September 7th, 1 a.m.:

It begins to rain heavily,
the sound like barrels of water
being poured on the corrugated roof.

Jonathan locks his office door
and settles into his reading chair
to read a bit and sleep.

Just audible above of the sound of water
he hears something else,
like someone rattling
the door handle.

He looks up but the handle is not moving.
Then . . . Bang!
the door caves convexly in,
shakes on its hinges . . .
Bang. Bang. Bang.

Jonathan is on his feet
in the middle of the room,
an antique branding iron
held in his hand
like a club.

(You see, Jonathan has read often
in the local papers
of similar incidents:
“In the middle of the night
a rancher robbed and beaten for cash
in his office.”
Or,
“A rancher and his family
robbed at gunpoint in their home
by three ex-convicts hopped up
on Meth.”

Not that Jonathan couldn’t take care of himself, but)

The door bangs and shakes two more times.
Jonathan thinks that his shotgun
might be a better weapon,
and just as he turns to retrieve it,
lightning flashes through the skylights,
blueing the entire office,
his ridiculous shadow twice
on the floor,
and almost simultaneously,
thunder cracks and rumbles away.

Jonathan drops the branding iron,
unlocks and opens the door,

and in leaps
Dominic,
wet
and muddy and panting,
shaking water everywhere.

Dominic never liked thunder.

editors note:Dog from desperado, transformed in a flash. – mh clay

The Head

featured in the poetry forum July 9, 2014  :: 0 comments

I saw a dead body today.
I did not see the head.

I was on my way back from La Limpieza,
driving the route the Walking Man walks

I was thinking about the Advisor, the Bad
guy, the Tattler. I was coming around
a dangerous curve, a curve where I have
witnessed the aftermath of many an accident,
skid marks, trucks turned over, logs spilled
onto the road, cars with front ends smashed
in, windshields shattered. Coming around
the curve I slowed down then stopped
for a white-gloved policeman with his palm
held out. My white truck reflected
in his sunglasses. There was a dark blue
pickup behind him. I waited while the traffic
passed from the other direction. The police-
man then waved me forward, his lips and chin gravely
set. I tapped my toe on the accelerator, hoping the cop
would not notice that my seatbelt was unfastened, and drove slowly
past the dark blue pickup. The cab was caved
in, the passenger door open. I saw a man, no,
I saw a body wearing a blue plaid
shirt and blue jeans, the right arm
extended, the hand still gripped
to the gear shift. The crushed cab roof
formed a vee that inverted
directly into the middle
of the body’s shoulders,
right where the neck should be.
There was no blood, but
I did not see the head.

I saw a dead body today.
I did not see the head.

I was thinking about the Advisor, the Bad
Guy, the Tattler.

editors note:You won’t take with you head nor toe. When it’s time to go, you go. – mh

The Cattle Rustler

featured in the poetry forum August 18, 2013  :: 0 comments

With your sharp silver facón you shaved
the calf’s hindquarter, looking for the brand
that you knew was not there,
and it was only the notary’s whisper
about the calf’s fat healthy appearance
that jerked your hand
into blae confession, slicing off
your black denial, drawing
sanguine tears.

“Three,” you said, “three calves”
you lost, with fingers upheld,
even though we found eleven
that had to be returned to the neighbor
whose ranch horsed the bearded cohort
who probed me with questions of origin
to discover what substance made
this stoic face and wide-set stance.

Your penned renouncement only papered
when Teresa waved her hand and said
“enough, enough bloodshed; we gave
you our trust which you stabbed then twisted it
deep into my pelvis which will never again birth
confidence in your bull-brown eyes.”

editors note:A short scene; cattle wars and the politics of trust. Someone goes hungry… – mh

Guias

featured in the poetry forum May 9, 2013  :: 0 comments

The green guias are paid for.
The seven thin cows
and seven spine-warped bulls
are about to vanish
from our virid pastures.

The Accomplice skipped work today.
He did no show his olive face.
I guess he became weary
of shoveling hen-house shit.
We set his horse free.

My truck wheel fell off:
after driving sixty kilometers
at one hundred thirty kilometers per hour
I turned off the highway upon a dirt road
and felt the thump.

The two calf-killing stallions
were boxed in crates
and although the Calloused-Hand Curator
displayed coins in his palm
I did not offer the star-marked colts.

The Malingerer extended his sick-leave:
I loom patiently outside his locked window
with a hammer in my hand;
I remove rusty animal traps
from the moonlit afternoon.

In town I errand tools and supplies
and take a coffee-break at El Café Local,
The gossip at the table behind me
is that the Rustler was seen at the stationer—
that his pen had run out of ink.

editors note:When those guidelines indicate the end of famine or the imminency of thieves (which?); when all the usual suspects have fled the scene (where?); it takes a good cup o’ joe to clear the head. – mh

 

Dear Santa Ana

Dear Santa Ana

by Stephen Page

Today I reconnected your telephone-fax one week after I recovered it from the Cattle Thief, and today I spoke with the elderly lady who let her hogs feed free upon your pasture, the eighty-two year old neighbor who begged with palm held out for kindling from your wood. I told her we would speak about the matter later.

A bathroom is bricking up alongside my matera, my plant-enclosed muse room, my idea room, the place where my desk is, the place where gauchos once stopped to take mate in front of the fire and nap-dream meat, the place where I will never again reluctantly leave to piss my daily coffee intake, the place that will soon be my self-enclosed patrón office, the place where I will administer your affairs.

Yesterday I drove to the neighboring town Lobos, to meet and interview a gaucho for potentially filling the role of capataz, but the man who stepped down from the train with his woman had only one eye, losing the other to a horse kick, and his wife a nurse mind you, with five kids. We drank coffee, spoke, and when the woman smiled falsely, I knew. I smiled, shook their hands, paid for their train tickets, and honestly hoped they would not again disembark nor call.

Last week I put new locks on your gates, and all twenty-five hundred acres of you exhaled as if you had been holding your breath for a very long time.

Today I walked the wood near my new home, my new office, my no longer weekend escape from smog and noise of the city, my no longer escape from teaching and students, my no longer muse room. I sat on a log to contemplate the sapid scent of eucalypti. I zipped up my polar-fleece vest, my leather jacket, donned my rancher gloves and noticed a pileated woodpecker scrutinizing me.

Today I chased away rabbit hunters from lot number eight.

*Originally published on Extracts and later included in “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River,” which is published by Finishing Line Press.

#epistolary #poetry #epistolaryPoem #epistolaryPoetry #ranching #StephenPage #Extracts #FinishingLinePress #aRanchBorderingTheSaltyRiver

“Another Week Begins” by Stephen Page

madswirl logo black background

Another Week Begins

By Stephen Page

When Jonathan turns off the highway the mud

in the road is a foot deep.  He clicks his vehicle

into 4-wheel drive and creeps forward in first gear

so not to slide into one of the ditches.  The white gates

of his ranch are open, El Misionero standing next

them.  He rolls his window down and sighs.  The air

smells green.  Green.  Green.

He drives to his office and talks with his capataz,

then they climb in the ranch pickup to go see a calf

cadaver.  It was born early that morning with a curled-

neck deformity, and unable to reach its mother’s tit

or the water trough, it just stumbled around awhile and fell

on its side.  The gauchos had skinned it and the vultures picked

it mostly clean, the eyes plucked out, the tongue sliced in half,

bits of intestine lying next to the spine, the heart and lungs mush

under the gristly ribs.

They drive to the Yellow House casco to see a pony cadaver.

Apparently, last night it leaped the fence around the

swimming pool and fell in the water. It lay on its side

on the grass where the yardkeeper placed it, its legs

stiff in the curled positions of swimming, yellow froth

tubed out of its nostrils.  It was only three-weeks old.

Jonathan goes for a long walk, alone—he admires

the greening grass, the knee-high wheat, the sprouting corn,

the blooming chamomile, the calves and ponies leaping about

pastures spotted white with egrets.

He hears bees buzzing, mockingbirds singing—

and he keeps walking, walking; walking

past the pastures, past the Wood,

until he enters a fallow field.

As he approaches a small marsh

a flock of black ibis lift

and cloud away.

*this poem first published on madswirl

http://madswirl.com/poetry/2018/02/another-week-begins/

Editor’s note:

Like any week, we walk through cadavers to stand free. – mh clay

on Mad Swirl Another Week Begins

I wanted to title this “Monday, Monday,” but that sounded so familiar as to have already been used.

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