Raw Forms

By Jeanine Stevens

Everything is transformation.

Friends agree. We talk about faded

manuscripts we cannot finish,

decide wicker baskets filled

with prompts don’t work either.

Now we say mutabilus instead of rose,

grunion rather than fish, bottledge for flask.

Perhaps we love someone else.

One grows a beard, another shaves.

Others trade tight-fitting Levis for belts,

suspenders and Haines Beefy Tees.

These are the sage years.

We should be wise, yet still wince

at the abandoned line, still write joyful

poems in this offensive season.

Stones in raw forms

aren’t worth much. Even the reddish

gem must be polished

when chipped out from Garnet Hill.

How many drafts lie crumpled?

At Aspendos, I look for classic dramas

in the oldest living theater, decide I have no

choice, must carry my own tiger

down the mountain, drooling and hungry.


Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis, and has an M.A. in Anthropology. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt and one of two finalists for the William Stafford Prize. Author of Sailing on Milkweed, her latest chapbook is “Needle in the Sea,” from Tiger’s Eye Press. Poems have appeared in Poet LoreEvansville ReviewPearlNorth Dakota ReviewPerfume RiverAlehouse and Quercus Review.

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