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[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


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


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