Firestorm in the House of Birds

By Jeanine Stevens

 Coventry Cathedral


Blistered pinnacles rise from the perimeter,

shattered, yet delicate as mica.

Like up-ended swallows tails they elongate, reach

toward the sun.

Inside, puddles of rain reflect

a collage of shreds, war’s fallen flock.


And I am back in 1940 with parishioners

on wooden pews for song, then

Sunday lunch and later,

near the radio for the weekly newscast.

Another cloudburst creates

a dazzling mirror image

in the gutted grater; glittering glassine

embellishing the earth.

Resting under a lintel, I consume

my sack lunch, grateful

for cheese, bread and hard green apple.


I recall recent attempts to blow up gods

and deities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Not so easily shattered—

do they patiently wait

for a new a plinth, a new cornerstone?


Leaving, I note a raven’s nest

high on a damaged spire—birds watchful,

birds in no hurry.


At the exit, souvenir pin, a cross—

twisted nails salvaged

from splintered beams.



Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

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