Three Poems


Margo Taft Stever








The molly sky, the lemons

            in the tree; the molly sky,

                        the lemon, lemon squeeze.

So much more has happened since you left,

            the apple tree,

                        the worms have ridden with the red,

the sky is bare and blank as ink.


What is it about birds,

            their bodies round like ours,

                        but their wings

so certain of flight,

            so clear of tangled wind?

                        The hawks with bells on tails


gird the highest trees,

            stilled to spot their prey,

                        the treed squirrels, the bunnies

startled from the thicket.

            Everything that moves is game.


Bird feathers are straighter

            than an arrow, straighter

                        than a tree.

The ocean is the sky

            and you are me.


Leaves hang like fish,

            loaves on the tree,

                        autumn brown,

                                    ground out.

Hang like little faces,

            hang like faces,

                        past faces hanging

                                    from the tree.








The mother keeps lights on

above her baby’s crib; the lights

disturb the baby’s sleep


but keep the rats away, their teeth

from tearing her baby’s skin.

She heard them rattling above


her head; once she saw a rat’s

pink snout, another’s tail

through the ceiling’s hole.


The tail hung down,

swayed back and forth, as if

tempting her to pull.


Rats teemed—night rats flocked

in and out of streets, tempted

by broth, by vats of soup, stirred


like witches’ brew. She couldn’t

get the rats out of her head. They

gnawed at her brain like cheese.








As a child, I contracted tularemia

and almost died because one of our rabbits

kept in decrepit hutches must have

had the disease and bit me.

My sister, Kathy, and I would let them out

in the tack room attached to our primitive barn,

and we would play among them.

They nibbled and nudged us with their velvet

pink noses and ate carrots from our hands.


When I got older, I became a horse—my hair

the horse’s mane and my legs, her legs.

The horse could fly over fields of clover

like a swan, like a goldfinch flitting

among apple blossoms, eating thistle seed.

A horse had the power of late-driven snow,

of a tornado heading wherever she pleased.

She tensed her coat to shoo flies away;

she bolted and whinnied at the moon.









Margo Taft Stever’s collections include Cracked Piano (CavanKerry Press, 2019); Ghost Moose (Kattywompus Press, 2019); The Lunatic Ball (Kattywompus Press, 2015); The Hudson Line (Main Street Rag, 2012); Frozen Spring (Mid-List Press First Series Award, 2002) and Reading the Night Sky (Riverstone Poetry Chapbook Competition, 1996).  Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Plume, Verse Daily, “poem-a-day” on, Prairie Schooner, Connecticut Review, Cincinnati Review, upstreet and Salamander.  She is founder of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press.  She lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and is online at



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