Tag Archives: Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

“Two Torsos Don’t Make a Heart” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Carnival Figures - Rene Portocarrero, 1952
Carnival Figures – Rene Portocarrero, 1952

Hurry hurry, step right up, folks, and marvel at the carnival of curious characters in “Two Torsos Don’t Make a Heart,” one of two stupendous poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens in our Winter 2016 issue.

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THE BEARDED LADY
sang in an all-girl church choir,
her demented alto,
a Bobby Darin croon
put men to sleep in funeral suits.

She commands presence on stage
while clowns, those colorful
killers, pick at ukuleles.
What midnight ritual is this?

Her vocal chords, ham hocks,
Her cheeks overflow with rosy,
the drips and drops
of doo-wop spills out over
her praying lips. This

prayer is a cake donut,
meticulously heated by a
nacreous blur glaze,
a Hallmark card of
unicorn shards.

Who could ever slay that
beast? The strong man.
One morning they awoke beside
the barn, full-bellied;
a man of great size,
he took his place in the arena.

He slept his way to the top.
Children’s shoes over size 10 are
considered large.
He is just one big child, but
possesses great heart.

He is a satellite falling toward earth,
a meteor sat down to lunch,
down, down, down, face, beard,
muscles, muscles, thigh, thigh,
muscles, big black boots.

The earth is dangerous
for someone who looks dangerous.
Gravity points in one direction.
Dawn like so many orange
and red fingers flickering across the

horizon and yet, the child sees
the dirt more clearly in the light
from the front row footlights.

She possesses astute
wisdom. Tiny, tiny insight.

{ X } Continue reading “Two Torsos Don’t Make a Heart” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

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“P.J. Harvey Says She is Going to Take Her Problems to the United Nations” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Anxiety and diplomacy  tango in “P.J. Harvey Says She is Going to Take Her Problems to the United Nations,” one of two utterly flappulous poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens in our Winter 2016 issue.

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I WILL MEET YOU THERE P.J.
Who will kill the weeds in my back yard?
Who will stop my son from scratching kids at recess?
Will there be a panel discussion
on just the scratching
or just the weeds?
How many people will be on the panel?
Will I get to vet these people?
Will my mother-in-law be on the panel?
What if all the solutions are bad ones?
Does that make that word, “solution” not a solution?
But a “problem solution?” like a “problem play?”
What if I think the solutions are bad but the panel does not?
What if a lunch break comes too soon?
Like right when they are in the middle of some good solution talking?
What if a break comes too late and people’s blood sugar drops?
Like really drops, hard, so that women in pearls pass out?
Like right when we are reaching some good compromise?
What if the men get angry because they are hungry?
What if I pass out from hunger?
What if there is no one to get home to my children because I’ve passed out?
What if I have been taken to a quiet office space to recover?
What if no solutions are reached because I am not in the room to
announce, “yes, I  agree to that.”
What if the solutions are reached because I am not there;
a proxy appoints herself to be my proxy and
she says, “yes, I think Jennifer will agree to that.”
Or conversely, what if she says, “no, Jennifer will never agree to any of this?”
What if I never agree?
What if I agree?
What if time stands still like in The Twilight Zone?
It’s all pant suits and gavels now.

{ X } Continue reading “P.J. Harvey Says She is Going to Take Her Problems to the United Nations” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Our 2015 Best of the Net Nominees Are…

Our nominations for the 2015 Best of the Net anthology, which honors literary work that originally appeared on the internet between 7/1/2014 & 6/30/2015, are:

“ARG” – Anthony Michael Morena (short fiction)
“Street Music” – Emily O’Neill (poetry)
“Invocation: Joan of Arc Reads the Crowd” – Jennifer MacBain-Stephens (poetry)
“9 lessons in witchcraft” – Danielle Perry (poetry)
“The Rud Yard” – Vajra Chandrasekera (short fiction)

Congratulations & best of luck to all our nominees, as well as our eternal gratitude for contributing their amazing work to our weird little zine.

“Grackles” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Purple Grackle or Common Crow Blackbird - John James Audubon, circa 1830
Purple Grackle or Common Crow Blackbird – John James Audubon, circa 1830

“Grackles” is one of five pieces contributed by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens to our Winter 2015 issue, a kind of epilogue to her series of poems on Joan of Arc.

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ROBERTO RAVEN CIRCLES THE BATTLEFIELD, waits for the logs and squares to stop shaking and gurgling. Opposite of Quick Care, the beaks seek grossness, go to the quiet ones first. Little silver boxes squirm in the grass. Two argue in the sky If someone is dead, do you say “I love” or “I loved.” Birds are just addicts who come to any gathering for the free coffee.  The buzzing molecules won’t stop mowing science down. New diagrams of buzzards break open encyclopedias. No one has any ears to hear the panting and murdered ecology. Put your energy into this field project management. Weed, mow, pluck, fertilize. Goats are good at bloodletting. Harvest the forearms and flies. You can tell how old something is by the smell. Roberto, the only feathered Italian in France at the time, is outnumbered by the xenophobic blackbirds. Christopher chipmunk’s only interest is nuts. Roberto is pissed and finds his voice again in the sky: message my wing beats in screams and piercing darkness through round orbital messages in a bottle. Christopher and Roberto are too scary to be illustrated properly. Real life never stops pulsing long enough for a proper water color. Roberto refuses to blind the corpses. A prisoner in another camp looks east, the morning bells ring. Armor a memory like the ocean.

And it’s over a thousand years later and we are back on the banks of the Seine, opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew, loosening hiking boots. Telling each other about our small steps every fucking day.

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AuthorphotoJENNIFER MacBAIN-STEPHENS is the author of three chapbooks: Every Her Dies (ELJ Publications), Clotheshorse (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming, 2014), and Backyard Poems (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming, 2015). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared in public places in Iowa City. Recent work can be seen / is forthcoming at Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Blue Hour, The Golden Walkman, Split Rock Review, Toad Suck Review, Red Savina Review, The Poetry Storehouse, and Hobart. For a complete list of publications and other odds and ends, visit JenniferMacBainStephens.wordpress.com 

“Pilgrimage” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake - Hermann Stilke, 1843
Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake – Hermann Stilke, 1843

“Pilgrimage” is the fourth of Jennifer MacBain-Stephens‘ poems on Joan of Arc featured in our Winter 2015 issue.

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LIPS TO SAINT JOAN’S EARS,
brown hoods cup water
in their tiny hands,
scavenging for bits of bone in the Seine.

A blacksmith remembers her:
Fragile and lemur-like,
raked over the coals
three times to
wring the witch out.

Psalm pages hang in the branches
Of the weeping willows,
heavy with the softness of girl’s skin.
Branches miss their little doll
with high cheek bones.

Like Cinderella’s birds
Who knew too much
clothing scraps are woven into
nests for remembrance near
the family farm in Dom Remy.

The proverbial sword struck
down the tiniest shape;
everyone wants to harm little girls.
Crowns not up to contemplating
the cosmos, acquiesce throughout eternity.

The healing is measured.
Firstonebreath.
Thenasecond.
Then a year has gone by.
Measured by guest book signatures.

Creeping in from forests,
forms conjoin to assemble
one gargantuan black robed priest.
The townspeople sweep,
chant, light candles,

cradle pieces of warmth,
this one I will protect, that one, lost.

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AuthorphotoJENNIFER MacBAIN-STEPHENS is the author of three chapbooks: Every Her Dies   (ELJ Publications), Clotheshorse (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming, 2014), and Backyard Poems (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming, 2015). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared in public places in Iowa City. Recent work can be seen / is forthcoming at Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Blue Hour, The Golden Walkman, Split Rock Review, Toad Suck Review, Red Savina Review, The Poetry Storehouse, and Hobart. For a complete list of publications and other odds and ends, visitJenniferMacBainStephens.wordpress.com 

“Cross Dressers: The trial of Joan of Arc” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Joan of Arc is interrogated by the Cardinal of Winchester in her prison, 1431 - Paul Delaroche, 1823
Joan of Arc is interrogated by the Cardinal of Winchester in her prison, 1431 – Paul Delaroche, 1823

“Cross Dressers: The trial of Joan of Arc” is one of several Saint Joan-themed poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens included in our Winter 2015 issue.

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AT THIS TEA PARTY OF BENCHES AND BIBLES, the lecturer is part drone, all queen bee.

All of the bigwigs wear wigs. They need more hair to think. Posturing as females, the powdered procure statements. The Statements sound like questions. The questions spit syllables like a furtive glance. Like a good Democrat, Joan attempts a reach across the aisle but she never learned furtive in the womb. A grandiose evening filmed for CNN or Soul Train, all the interesting bits are off camera when it’s all “take my pocket square,” and “Comb out that nest.” The robed ones might as well model maxi dresses. They in drag, She in garb. They sit and stare at each other through stained glass and vaulted ceilings. Go on, tell your tea party story how I came from underground and I will recap how they came from the sky. Our ears will foster care odd sounds of treason and devil. You do the ranting. I will do the pouring. And at the end of month’s end, whispers of pyres, of throwing a cat in for the ride, I will succumb. All because I would rather be right than apologize. All that’s missing are knuckle rings and a boom box.

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AuthorphotoJENNIFER MacBAIN-STEPHENS is the author of three chapbooks: Every Her Dies (ELJ Publications),Clotheshorse (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and Backyard Poems (forthcoming, 2015). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared in public place in Iowa City. Recent work can bee seen / is forthcoming at Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Blue Hour, The Golden Walkman,Split Rock Review, Toad Suck Review, Red Savina Review, The Poetry Storehouse, and Hobart. For a complete list of publications and other odds and ends, visit JenniferMacBainStephens.wordpress.com 

“Siege of Compiegne” – Poetry by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Capture of the Maid at Compiegne - James William Edmund Doyle, 1864
Capture of the Maid at Compiegne – James William Edmund Doyle, 1864

The 2nd of Jennifer MacBain-Stephens‘ 5 poems on Joan of Arc featured in our Winter 2015 issue is “Siege of Compiegne,” a lyrical look at the Maid of Orelans’ dramatic and scandalous capture.

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EVEN ROCKS BETRAY YOU. Chucked from above, split over silver fish helmets scampering up the wall. Not burned, stuck in the walls, keystones have nothing else to look at. So they smirk at dead bodies. When the talisman reads Joan’s transcribers’ notes it is already too late. The last group to leave the bar, the battlefield leftovers, eyes speak Guillaume de Flavy: traitor. His party trick of locking the gates behind everyone flayed facial skin. Joan’s last act in the Hundred Years’ War was meeting dirt with her face. Butcher men, sour men, like to pull things off of other things. Once, a blood orange spectrum of battering rams against torsos and teeth assaulted dusk’s skyline. Now the pillaging of tendons ends. Joan found a higher, abnormal light, put it in her pocket. No diseased white matter.  She knows her molecules will burst at a million degrees. She waits, tied up.  Meanwhile, enemy thighs squat, break bread over beef stock. Crush the crusts into the juice. God is too small.

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AuthorphotoJENNIFER MacBAIN-STEPHENS is the author of three chapbooks: Every Her Dies (ELJ Publications), Clotheshorse (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and Backyard Poems (forthcoming, 2015). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared in public place in Iowa City. Recent work can bee seen / is forthcoming at Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Blue Hour, The Golden Walkman,Split Rock Review, Toad Suck Review, Red Savina Review, The Poetry Storehouse, and Hobart. For a complete list of publications and other odds and ends, visit JenniferMacBainStephens.wordpress.com