Kevin Stein

What surprises me, walking in some spot blessedly empty of people (that emptiness being half the reason I'm there) is how often I think of people I love - or those I'm trying to love, in spite of the usual complications. What's out there speaks to what's in here, a merging of inner and outer weather perhaps only a word truly understands, being both sound and silence, everything and nothing. West of my house, there's a huge burr oak, well over two hundred years old. Orioles nest there, weaving their hanging baskets among its thick arthritic limbs. Everything I write aspires to that architecture. From my failing, comes the poem.
- Kevin Stein


Little Puddles, Spring Buckets, the Earth Awash
by Kevin Stein

with bees, green tea leaves and sassafras,
garden mint so pungent the shut window
can't shut it out --- we lie there, bathed in sweet wet breath of angels
who envy our lips' blessed rush of flesh
on flesh they must turn their eyes from in pain of their own want of a body
we step out of when making love,
vessel we hover above in spent moments, so sweetly deep we've thrashed to come
out this other side, flushed and astonished
to have plucked ourselves free of want: pink and hardy weed whose roots sprout
among puddles on breast and belly
and thigh --- tomorrow's lubricious blossom.


In March, where the Kickapoo Bends
by Kevin Stein

"I hope I die before I get old." -- The Who

Three of us walked, though that was hardly all,
down white-tail path through bracken wood,
oak and hickory, track of elms disease
had wracked and left to stand, bark peeling
from wood the color of bone, all home
for woodpecker and then sweet fodder
for morel. Three of us walked, though that
was hardly all, down past a rusting wood stove,
bright heaps of glass and stone, the lone
jack-in-the-pulpit rising like sex after sixty.

Three of us walked -- one who'd patched his marriage,
one who'd found a job, one whose wife and son
had slipped cancer's grip -- down through damp
folds of Solomon's seal, both false and real,
through May Apple's raised umbrellas
and multiflora rose someone's good intentions
had made tangled pest, down to the Kickapoo bend,
a bluff of osage-orange, down where blue bells
carried sky to water and our steps flushed
doves whose wings burst feathered laughter.

We gave thanks. Bells rang silent blue, blue --
warm beer as explosive as middle-age
we once blithely swore we'd never reach.