Skip to content

“Between Dreams and Place ” and “A Constant Punch”

by S. J. Stephens

“Between Dreams and Place”

Sun, betrayed by late-winter breeze

warms my skin through deck slats.

I close my eyes and raise to the heat,

in quiet midday the only sounds

are cars passing, birds chirping, and

the rattle of leaves in trees and on the ground.

Tiny hairs slip from my topknot

tickle my neck and cheek

Wind, hand caresses in the sweetest kiss,

lifting me from damage,

a crippled mind gently rocking

in the space between dreams and place.

I’m only this instance, sound, song, silence

separated from awareness, floating, melting

under the Myrtle when a dog barks

in the distance. A vortex behind my eyelids

forms a center, pulls me further

into resonant joy. I ask God to stop time,

let me live in this glimmer a while longer,

for this yearning, awakened body, despite desire

sleeps in the way of babes

swaddled in mothers’ arms.

“A Constant Punch”

There’s a sense of aching in fury.

As it happens now, I’m looking out the window,

where there rages a swift punch

of morning. It knows it has me captive

until I can hold all I feel as precious

until I revel in the ferocity of this pain.

But there is a truth that comes with the pain

and often it speaks to me through my fury

and offers me a fresh chance at precious

new knowledge, when it could offer me a window

of hope, the kind that any captive

must bear in the punch

of despair. Before delivering the verve

of courage, there is a new kind of pain

that throbs and holds me captive

where I thrash and thrive in my fury.

There is a crack in the window

that lets in cool air, precious

oxygen in the clutches of clamped peerless

pills, pounding worsens to a gut punch

I hope offers me an opportunity

to understand this throb, this pain.

While I am wrecked over again in the merciless

movement in my brain, I am captive

to all the things that this cage

could be, something precious

or a hunger that builds to fury

at why I am plagued and punched

with all this glorious divine agony.

I ponder, as I sit on the pane of a window

wondering if there is a time, a space

to escape. It holds me captive

to the physical, this throb, this pain

instead of the place of precious

peace. I claw, fight, and punch

my way away from rage

in a fantasy of painless days at my window.

A new storm’s fury is my captive,

nothing precious survives this constant punch.

S.J. Stephens lives and writes in the coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina.  She is an MFA poetry student at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She’s published in a variety of journals, and her chapbook, Where All the Birds Are Dancing, was released October 2020 by Finishing Line Press. 


Archive, The River

%d bloggers like this: