Two Poems by Stephen Jordan


Past the fray of foreign weapons in local hands, the scramble
of brother against brother, scream of gunfire and low
concussions underfoot, children unlocked their necks and
pulled swollen eyes away from the river, silt and
threads of heavy metals curling around black thighs.
Past the treetops, floating over their corrugated world,
mud and lean-tos and an angry heat, they strained further,
wondering about the world of smooth pavement
window treatments and airplane fuel, like toy towns
built from buckets with endless pieces, a car ad
on a crumbled page trampled in the dirt, the unreal blue
on the backpack of a more adventurous traveler;
place of myths and shimmers that carry their fingerprints
through its grid—

                                                                      a shower of pixels
raining down and filling up our streets, spilling from our eyes,
each tear holding a scene like a snow globe, images rendered
from analog waves ion streams and phosphenes quick to
adulterate families of axons and dendrites and lobe chemicals
back out to satellite dishes, raw elements of a new creation
a growing beast that lurches with mercury-tipped fangs,
swirling and drunk and in the way of the sun, oil slicks
and plastic spittle and neurotoxins on its breath, picking up
the train concussing it downhill flung into the aisle
grabbing at seats and passengers upended headlong
thrown back skull fractured window spider web cracked
pinning a shoulder anywhere just to glance outside.

The North Cascades

Perimeters dissolved like a spider web in my hand.

And now with the hotel walls in slow collapse,
borders beget borders, lines clearly drawn,
I think of just a few days past,
back to the backcountry, to the North Cascades,
back when I was continuous,

The wood chips and duff that floated in the campfire coffee,
We drank them down.

The field mice that ran across my sleeping bag,
ran across my forehead,
the summer stars wanted in.

The dirt that drew the maps of my hands,
fingerprints ready
the earth that rambled around me,
that settled in as newborn skin.

Our thirst went straight to the river,
a river wound down from the mountain
to the deepest cirques,
over sandstone, mudstone,
the surface blinking to the sun.

The outskirts of my body were dubious, margins porous.
My self as self was doubtful.

Stephen Jordan was born and raised in the Midwest, the son of Colombian and Serbian immigrant parents.  He has taught high school English for over twenty years, taking occasional leaves of absence to live and work in South America, East Africa, and the UK. Steve has been published in Lalitamba, Third Wednesday, Lyrical Somerville, Common Chord Anthology, English Journal, and Gamut Magazine.

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