Two Poems by John Whitney Steele

Warrior III: The Arrow

Lunge forward, extend your torso over your knee.
Lift your back leg and balance on your front leg.
Parallel your body to the ground.
Gaze along your arms to the horizon,
a well-aimed arrow, sharp, steady, poised.
If you’ve ever dreamed of levitation,
try it. Hover there, on one leg.
Become the celestial arrow, Anjélica.

Launched from Árjuna’s bow, feel Krishna’s hand
guiding you through the wind, in through a chink
in Karna’s armor, through his skin, the flesh
between his ribs, and straight into his heart.
Had Árjuna known that Karna was his brother,
he never would have pulled you from his quiver.

Hánuman’s Leap

O Hánuman, son of wind god, Váyu,
warrior monkey, smaller than a speck
of dust, more massive than a mountain, skin
like harvest moon, face blood red, bedecked
with flowers flowing from your mane, why must
you tear your ribcage open? Ram and Sita
already see themselves reflected
in your throbbing heart. Why don’t you kneel
down on the ground, press your palms to lift
your hips, take one leg forward, one leg back,
stretch them till your buttocks touch the earth,
then bring your palms together overhead,
and take one giant leap across the sea?
Go. Seek beloved Sita, set her free.

John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, David Rothman, and Ernest Hilbert. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, is to be published by Kelsay Books in 2021. His poetry has appeared previously in Sparks of Calliope and numerous journals including The Lyric, The Orchards, and Road Not Taken. Born and raised in Toronto and Foot’s Bay, Ontario, John lives in Boulder, Colorado and enjoys hiking in the mountains. Visit his website @

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