What Is The River

IMG_0219What is The River
To become, a river
must pass a jury process based on
topographical or aerial landscapes.

The River is cooperative. Turned by time,
a free style of weaving through layers of watercolor,
continuous overflows, the work of current,
always seeking new outlets.

On any given day one might find items of
marbled pottery, glass, feathers, shells, stone –
natural and manmade materials – woven into her work.

Whatever The River learns she masters, to discover
what can be drawn from within in hopes of offsetting winter.
Recurring abstract shapes, distinct tracks, sometimes animals
birds and carved bears emerge from internal landscapes.

The River is a window for artisans to perceive themselves.
Images always appear, become the river.
Do not fear her blank canvas.
The River is both meditation and a dance.

Carol A. Stephen

Found poem.  Source material: The River Artisans Cooperative, Saxton River, VT.






Salute to Poetry and to dVerse on its 3rd Anniversary!

It’s been awhile since I posted due to some health issues causing difficulty typing, but the weekly (or perhaps bi-weekly) newsletters from CAA will be back in August.  Meanwhile, I wanted to say congratulations to dVerse on its 3rd anniversary. Even though I don’t post there often, I do follow the blog and I save the posts!

Yesterday I came across an old sonnet I wrote that says a bit about what it’s like being a poet. This one is about a male poet, but of course can be applied to female poets (with appropriate substitutions):


On Contemplation of the Muse

Hungary-0064 - József Attila

Hungary-0064 – József Attila (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis))




In shadow sits a solitary man,
in pensive contemplation of his muse.
He writes sweet poetry because he can
with clever words beguile and yet amuse.




A simple turn of phrase he will infuse
with dulcet undertones of wit and rhyme.
No lady ever born has yet refused
a poet spinning words three-quarter time.

Statue of Phillis Wheatley

Statue of Phillis Wheatley (Photo credit: Sharon Mollerus)

To win a heart with words can be no crime.
But poets walk alone in mighty crowds,
hearts beating cadence to a different chime,
while heads are often floating in the clouds.

The price is high for those who live to write:
The muse seeks succor day or dead of night.

Carol A. Stephen






Giardino dei Boboli, Firenze, Italy.

Giardino dei Boboli, Firenze, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then I was thinking about the lovely photo of the place where dVerse is holding its celebration today. The Pitti Palace, with its lovely Boboli Gardens in Firenze, Italy. I was lucky enough to visit Italy and the Pitti in August 2001 with my late husband. John had been a Renaissance buff for many years, having lived in Firenze when he was a young man.


But to salute dVerse: This is a great blog that presents poets with ideas and challenges to keep the poems coming, whether it is to write a sonnet, or a poem about family history, or an ode to poets and poetry. Congratulations, dVerse! My poem here is about the wonderful venue you’ve chosen for the Poets’ Ball.


Amidst the Soaring Cypresses


I teased my husband when he’d talk
about the Boboli, pretend he’d said
Bubbly and I’d ask about fountains
how many, what statuary, how tall the trees
behind the Pity Palace? Ah, yes the Pitti, sorry.

In 2001, there we were, amidst soaring cypresses,
the grids of green grass and dark shrubs with waxen leaves.
Hot that day. In the sizzle of 37 Celsius, I dreamed of dipping toes
into Neptune’s Fountain of the Fork, settled instead on the long walk

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through groves of trees and the shadows of Spiders Lane,
shuddering at the thought of eight tiny legs crawling up my own.
We took pictures of The Dwarf Morgante, the giant stone tub and
statue after statue that still loom and gesture in their frozen poses.

Tomorrow, the Poets Ball at Boboli. I will dance alone among the trees
for the memories of the gardens, the stone figures, and of him.

Carol A. Stephen
July 16, 2014

The back facade of Palazzo Pitti in Florence a...

The back facade of Palazzo Pitti in Florence as seen from Boboli Gardens. גני בובולי (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Howling at the Sun

Challenge was to write a Beat poem, and how appropriate, since this week we are studying the Beats on ModPo (Modern & Contemporary American Poetry via UPenn on Coursera.org) with Professor Al Filreis and friends.

Something about Ginsberg‘s ashcans struck a chord, and this riff on Ginsberg was the result. Certainly not a long rant by any means, and I did a combination of found poem and original phrasing.

Howling at the Sun

The ashcans of America rise up and rant out of their dark alleys of broken glass,
beat and battered and brilliant through the stale beer of doom
floating out of the hydrogen afternoon in Brooklyn, lost conversation
on the windowsills threatening to jump screaming
and vomiting eyeballs disgorged from subways
endlessly ridden beneath neon blinking lights fueled by benzedrine
clattering past cemeteries where bodies locked in bone-grinding dance
of ashes wander at midnight in the cosmos of Idaho
amid visionaries in limousines of winter illumined by the streetlights
and washed in rural rain, spattered in jazz riffs, hopeless and incomprehensible in the light of morning
at the bottom of a river bloated with orange crates and gibberish, coughing out the skeletons drifting down towards New Jersey in the animal soup of alchemy in a metered timeless unknown, naked and bleached, the suns of a thousand Augusts.

Carol A. Stephen
October 15, 2013

Sleeper, Dreaming

This came in response to a post on dVerse, Poets Pub, from Stuart McPherson, and to the referenced sculptures on exhibit by Paladino in Villa Fiorentino, Sorrento, Italy.

I also watched this interesting video with haunting music by Brian Eno and featuring the sculptures of Palladino at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-q_DNIDGJU


Sleeper, Dreaming

(reflecting on I Dormienti by Mimmo Palladino)

She places her ear close to the sound of the earth
where cool green water pools upon stone, caught
in a memory, when air she breathed was fresh with
the breezes soft against her cheek, when the hot winds
that now weigh down her body were but passing
moments of brief summer.

She has become clay, she has become stone herself
as she sleeps, her cheek pressed to the ground. She
dreams of winter and the immaculate white of new-
fallen snow. She remembers the joy of making snow
angels. Her mouth remembers the taste of ice-crystals,
the quench of cold water in her throat.

Carol A. Stephen
August 14, 2012