Issue 14 – Summer 2008 – Sasha Steensen

Sasha Steensen


Nursery Rhyme

The thorntree snags its bird
by berries

like the word its thought

a little blood down the walk

until from the sky falls
a dictionary

on the little bird 
and the berry


a lot of blood on the walk
and our memories

a mass of moss
growing in the crevices

of knees, elbows
& livers

until a swarm of bees
breaches the family

and warms us in winter
with its stings

until a word intercedes 
to ask what word casts 
what other word out

until the weathercock bade
us this way


with the recollection
of collective memory 
following the collection
of members

of the family




Fragments i
            after Hopkins

The sun just risen 
flares his wet brilliance in the dintless heaven

Did I finish this morning’s morning given
before mid-noon

its sickle-stink
brooding about until a fire flames forth

from the cross-tree I spot a darkling willow 
the sun deadened

evening’s evening
a dent in timber, then smoldering embers

I caught this night
Night’s water, now pay fast attention, heaven

what happened happened, I speared a fish straight thru 
its gilly heart

I’m not sorry
narrowness surrounds me vast, moving faster

O afternoon begging me to be quiet
with my bucket

tied to my side
fishingpole whacking at flies and besides the fish

is multiple and warring with each other 
as a fire

in the canoe
good for roasting dwindles with the day, hurray!

Bring in the fog, then, and mope around the house
Blame God then and

mope around the yard
But watch out, the world is charged with the grandeur

of God, Oh I

know Ohio
how squirrels on my roof sound like a stampede

and feed grows scarce with each passing hour our
gilly heart spared,

tackled, laid out
to dry in the sun, as on a hammock, but less fun

oh waterspout of wildfire turned off
leafmold growing

spawns small nesters 
with all sorts of sicknesses chased away pale

or dimly ticks
call neighbors over to peer upon our pocks

how stuttery your sprung is as if you can
not speak to God

sores in the mouth
sprung hotly so that chicken tastes like pigeon

who has my hat
but the little life giggling in the corner

she’s so dear to me my daughter tho she fits
barely in the poem

but I force it
so that she might have a small place among you

damn sentimental
to hell or wanwood forest, whatever’s quicker

as it may be
I ate, slept, and spit on Hopkins his silence

lights a mile of green grass ahead and all the darkness stays dark
as it should be



Sasha Steensen is the author of  A Magic Book (Fence Books) and correspondence (with Gordon Hadfield, Handwritten Press).  Her new manuscript, The Method, is forthcoming from Fence Books in late 2008.  A chapbook entitled The Future of an Illusion will be out with Dos Press in May 2008.  Recent work has appeared in Aufgabe, Denver Quarterly, Shiny, Goodfoot, and Shearsman. She is one of the poetry editors of Colorado Review and sheco-edits of Bonfire Press.  She teaches Creative Writing at Colorado State University.