[Poetry] Five Poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens


What the Full Moon Sounds Like to a Mean Fairy


an ice tongue sliding down penguin wing

slow melt sugary gas station slushie


Bluebells not offered to her due to snark

the Autumn equinox lies: cold then blister hot


you sound like you ate too many red hots


Crux flies nowhere tonight the grass wet and heavy


forsythia pulled apart and petals played

tiny fairy dog tongues


she pulls dandelion fuzz to make a sweater

burrows into dirt to find later


you sound like you got lost on the trail


she overhears a human child ask her mother

a question for which there is no answer to


you sound annoyed


jazz hands to an angel’s combat boot

stomp, a smirk and gulp light champagne


she wants tiny, to put in pockets, to manage

dental appointments on mushrooms


you sound like you had too many Easy Eddy’s


A retro wrapped mint under rocks

the plastic could be made into a rain slicker


blow this forest and all it’s massiveness


a slow kiss with tongue

is the same in all worlds


you sound like you need some


It’s hearing these words:

I think about your wings all

the time.











A Robot is Frustrated


why humans cannot remember printed facts


they have to look them up


put yourself into flow, use return


conditioner makes hair shiny but what is a sadness arm


when we cannot see each other’s skin


A robot wishes for skin


out in public, to trip on cement, and create an inhuman sound


like a cow moan bursts into scheduling and waterfalls in Borneo


but do you know how to do shots?


to take a shot is either a short glassed drink or a verbal punishment


forget to text and break through fourth walls with your hammer and peacock emoji


your body parts are curves and angles, not hairless limbs in American apparel


An organ is an instrument or wet smush inside a casing


Turn sideways to navigate a movie aisle pre-Covid


What is a movie and how large is it? How many hands?


Roll a joint, but don’t breathe, snow is too repetitive


but the quiet is nice


likes and dislikes and blocks: a disenfranchised friendship


doing what is uncomfortable is I’m sorry


how do you go numb from insecurity or security?


Play a refracted board game and light up


double space the zeros and ones and make lots of noise




The Walk Back After You Looked at Her


20,000 steps behind me

he asked what I wanted to drink


I haven’t died in days but it’s awkward

if you are close to the stage looking at bare legs


dimming lights and dry the fuck out

it’s okay if you hold yourself inside


when you are a million miles from home


in this weird basement advertisement

and texting electrocutes me daily


by the first act he hasn’t recovered

from hair flipping


or that experimental videotaped

paranormal rant about calf slaughter

in the other room


there was a time when he was a kind hippie

maybe there was a time when I played opossum


but I found he liked to be liked

holding a rose


and denim a sour conversation

your tightness face tonight


not happening not red and blue

and the color of our lips outside


the carpet is an expose art show of

buffalos wandering an industrial complex


a sidestep poetry beat job

in the dog days of summer jeeps


the performer doesn’t know what time to feel

confident but severing the panic


shirt buttons always feel natural

the deafening beat in guts


the no eye contact between us

the tiny pellets of atomic judgement


feels like marbles rolling around intestines

the fingers not there


feeling for something to grasp

oh alone, I get it


in black overalls an hour-glass fling

maybe to you just a mic test


the lights flicker on the sound board

now come this way sideways to the


underworld

people will pay big bucks


and I feel exposed


on the yellow couch

always the intruder


in the forever rain:

still no fingers





Dog Park


He says Nothing you is too much for me

and I’m like a dog when you come to visit


I want to feel the wolf hair of his dog park days

because his forearms are warm


He is dog park on sun Sundays

and any day with hind leg dancing and sprinting and pant


He is dog park in naps of sweet paw grass and eyes

so sparkle and rainbow blue green essence


over a misty back yard garden

hauling haunches and wet kisses


after work or during or before

or water breaks stolen


He feels dog park to me in two weeks

when he runs back to me away from the pack


He dog parks me tonight when we meet under the covers

and play and roll over one another


He feels my mouth and I feel his dog park shoulders

and the bruise of him


the pound of his dog days forever music

and I want to be his dog park too


and never close




Bio: Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she likes to rock climb. She is the author of four full length poetry collections and twelve chapbooks. Recent work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Pinch, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, Zone 3, and Grist. She also hosts an indie reading series sponsored by the non-profit organization Iowa City Poetry called Today You Are Perfect. Find her at http://jennifermacbainstephens.com/.