Coleman Stevenson





“I would rather show you the nothing in my sky-blue eyes than give you an answer about it.”  —Hans Arp



Brains burst open in the soggy soil

underneath the mulch of last year’s vines.

Seeds, please come back and be

your old selves, have something inside.

Some grow robust, some spindly,

reaching for a sun that doesn’t shine

or if they sprout somehow

too late in the season

scorch, dry up, in the heat.

They wanted to be, and tried,

but every drop of water given

opened more stomata and they lost

that water to the unforgivable air.




Love burns up the Knight of Cups’ essence.

Evaporates itself with need. To you

everyone is sacred. This trips

my alarms alive. Hierarchy

pleases me, I need

to reign atop the tallest sunflower in the field.

I need differentiation— let the hollow seeds

float to the top and save the viable ones,

the ones with potential to feed.




Life, you sad fuck, always losing your footing.

Empty chairs, filled coffins, flowers sent too late.

People in restaurants talking to each other.

People in restaurants not talking.

I am jealous of still lifes

even though their impossible arrays

are descriptors of everyone’s deaths.




When we have

a lot,

we use a lot.

When we are

running low

we know

how to manage

with the littlest


The famous great man

on my t-shirt

has died

and I’m standing

over the stove

making box mac

& cheese, heating

a can of peas

Nostalgia says to eat.

A few good lines

promise to be more.

A flood of acceptable grief.




You grieve alone.

It scares me.

I’m scared.

I’m scared of dry days.

I’m scared of too much rain.

I’m scared of our fathers dying,

the tailspin that will be.

When I have not heard your arguments,

when I have not seen your misery,

I picture you like a Schiele self-portrait,

skin sinking under bones.

Your dirty orange robe

is the color of nasturtiums.

You cover one eye

and then the other

trying to move objects

around the room.

Terror wants to erase you,

uproot the screaming seed.




Babies cry in public

and it bothers me.

Babies cry,

it’s their nature,

but on this night


must be investigated.

Static from the tv

enters dreams.


eats away at love.




You don’t grieve alone. You call me, you come here. We lay on the bed, half on/half off. Death makes us

tired. I fall asleep with your cock in my hand, unable to do anything about it. From now on we might be

one bit less interesting to each other, though you’ve been hording your past so we’ll have something to

talk about in the long future we vaguely plan.




You mean to be true but things sneak up.

You black out, get home

but can’t remember how.

There are songs to make a case

for what is to your left, or your right,

or across from you.

The one with the car keys and the car.

A room nearby.

Would be me were I invited.

It starts in coffee shops.

In-between-times trump scheduled times.

You live in the Aether.

Where are your hands?

You cannot actually leave

them here.




What if resurrection

were the actual inevitable?

Is to say I loved to say I no longer love?

It is not— I did love, and I love still,

have loved throughout.




I would wave a magic wand, close the book of my life a little, dim the light of the moon so no one could see me measuring. Open book, open book— too much sparkle, not enough. Love does all the things the moon does, but the moon does it better. I slide the beads of an abacus up and down not understanding how this is math. My fingers smell of brass. I speak in clichés but try to bend them back to the visual.




I want to be a fly on the wall

I want to be the ghost in the machine

I want the Halo God of Dark Things

to slide the velvet down

I want to put souls into objects

I want the testimonial of houses

still standing under oaks

I want now and not after-the-fact

I want a sunrise and a sunset in the same day

I want coffee twice, and breakfast made at home

I want to keep the weeds at bay with dinner reservations

I want hotels in other places

I want to be my shadow, and bend around corners

I want grasshopper legs

I want a feathery instinct

I want a paper valentine

I want infinite chances

I want a little sugar for my hysteria

I want to carry your misery in my teeth

I want the reliability of chemicals

I want the sigils to burn and work

I want to wear your shirt




Book of my life, already written—

book of your life, written in mine.

High bridge out my window, thick pink end-of-winter air.

Car lights shine through it, flying, like flying, like they’d meet me

in the inevitable space inside vision.

You are the salt and the silence but also the miracle.

Soon it will be time to plant again. Soon, not yet.

Apples rot in the bowl but they are not mine.
Fruit flies accept the challenge of a momentary false spring.




*This poem is from The Doppelgänger Museum, an ongoing collaborative image + text project with artist Aspen Farer.









Contributing editor Coleman Stevenson is the author of two collections of poems, Breakfast (Reprobate/GobQ Books, 2015) and The Accidental Rarefication of Pattern #5609 (bedouin books, 2012), and The Dark Exact Tarot Guide (The Dark Exact, 2017).  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of publications such as The Portable Boog Reader, Gramma, Paper Darts, Seattle Review, Osiris, Louisiana Literature, Mid-American Review,, and the anthology Motionless from the Iron Bridge.  She has been a guest curator for various gallery spaces in the Portland, Oregon, area, and has also taught poetry, design theory, and cultural studies at a number of different institutions there.  She created the Image + Text track in the Certificate Program at the Independent Publishing Resource Center where she has taught since 2015.