Tag Archives: Two Torsos Don’t Make a Heart

“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.

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