Jeanine Stevens

Jeanine StevensBIO

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, and one of two finalists for the William Stafford Award, she is the author of Sailing on Milkweed.  Her latest chapbook is Needle in the Sea. Work has appeared in Poet Lore, Cider Press Review, Evansville Review and Rosebud, as well as Dragonheart and Sentinel (UK). Jeanine also enjoys Romanian folk dance, Tai Chi and collage. She divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Aphrodite’s Taverna

What was the thought that woke me in my wandering night mind:
a chore, unexpected offer, an old lover appearing aged and wanting?

You drank Rakia over crisp sea bass and melon. I switched to wine.
We danced to gypsy music accompanied by a modern clarinet.

Remember the young goddess in T Shirt and Jeans, palms pressed tight
moving toward you? So humid, you wore a headband there by the Bosporus.

Sunrise, purple shadows lace the lawn, grace leaded windows. The neon
pulses on and off above Aphrodite’s Taverna. I sip my morning coffee.

Sense impressions fade as late turning constellations diminish in a new star’s
first light. You invited me to ride with your caravan for six months.

Remembering last night’s dream: the crescent moon resembling a fish tail,
wobbling off-center, striking a yellow asteroid, I had to say “No.”

~A first line by Rumi


What was scattered gathers
What was gathered blows apart

~after Heraclitus, 500 B.C.

As air stirs ocean
breath infuses breath
the coastline retreats,
food again plentiful.
What was scattered gathers.

The sky solidifies
as rooftop to the world;
glass transforms
into a million faceted beads.
What was gathered blows apart.

The mountain you rest on
rebuilds itself from shifting lava.
You must find a new dune,
lie prostrate above Drake’s Bay.
What was scattered gathers.

The channel we thought too deep
evolves to a shallow meander.
The Russian River splits its tongue
and enters the Pacific.
What was gathered blows apart.

Cosmos trumps chaos,
the preacher tries again on
hillsides of Ephesus.
Attentive seed-pumpkins face east.
What was scattered gathers.

Hermosa Beach

Because it was summer, we had night beaches, inky and warm.
Lamplights near the breakwater infused surf with gold dust.
With my three cousins: we didn’t know how brief.

That fall, there would be a permanent school,
one who loved the sea stationed aboard the U.S.S Boxer,
and another drifting, off to Camarillo State Hospital.

But this night we dragged gunny sacks to the edge,
waited on sopping sand. Hypnotized
by a gentle tide, fuzz rolled between our toes.
The silver flash—wiggling, twisting,
egg laying food source.

Not knowing the moon’s trajectory or her plans for the evening,
we rushed, scooped, lost some,
gleaming slits sucked back into the black Pacific.

Grunion knew what they were in for,
predicted their brief future at tides whim.
Before the next surge, eggs were already deposited,

We were proud to say,
“We fished without hooks.”
Shaped like smelt, the grunion resisted corn meal,
curled in the popping lard…and were still.


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