New Poetry by Lisa Stice

Caspar David Friedrich, “The Sea of Ice,” (1823-24).

 

Headstrong

 

I’m sorry catches in the throat

and bruises in that wavering

hesitation like a rock falling

back to earth. See how it curves

under the skin, twists and cuts

as it hugs the voice box.

 

I forgive sways like a tamarack—

hackmatack, red larch, juniper,

larix laricina—of the low-lands

with roots in cool mud and branches

in the soft air where we hold

the belief we are stronger than wind.

 

The end is as blue as slag and twice

as worthless. This is where I say

I never meant it, and this is where

you say it doesn’t matter anymore

because words are less than

clouds and leaves and stone.

 

 

Nicolai Fechin, Portrait of Varya Adoratskaya (1914)

 

Daughter 

 

we are raising fire

a shock-headed girl

in this cold season

 

when you start a fire

be to windward, wait

for it to break out within

 

mind now what I say

remain quiet

for when fire breaks

 

we call these special days

nothing to me is sweeter

than a crackling flame

 

* some words borrowed from Struwwelpeter translated by Heinrich Hoffman (“any thing to me is sweeter,” “shock-headed peter,” “they crackle so, and spit, and flame,” “mind now, Conrad, what I say”) “The Attack by Fire;” The Art of War by Sun Tzu (“material for raising fire,” “special days,” “days of rising wind,” “when fire breaks,” “remain quiet,” “wait for it to break out within,” “when you start a fire, be to windward”)

 

Jacob Hoefnagel, “Orpheus Charming the Animals”

 

Homes Will Be Stripped Bare

 

this is one world

and this is another

the borders merely

 

traced out on the ground

with a small stick

in one world, animals:

 

zebras, giraffes,

lions, horses,

and dinosaurs

 

bide their time

stand together

quietly encamped

 

kept in readiness

for a decision

made in a single day

 

to overthrow their kingdom

cause commotion at home

the animals know

 

there is no time to ponder

just march to the place

beyond ordinary rules

 

* some words borrowed from “Weak Points and Strong” (“the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground,” “quietly encamped”), “The Attack by Fire” (“bide your time,” “kept in readiness”), “The Use of Spies” (“there will be commotion at home”), “Attacks by Stratagem” (“overthrows their kingdom”), “Maneuvering” (“ponder before you make a move”), “Laying Plans” (“beyond the ordinary rules”), and “Waging War” (the homes of the people will be stripped bare”) The Art of War by Sun Tzu

 

 

Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen (1914), Doubleday

 

The Book Closes

 

words become a strange

dream        an explosion

the releasing of the trigger

another shovelful of earth

to plant secrets        a storm

breaking with the momentum

of a round stone and yet

no real disorder at all

just the melodies that can never

be heard        the colors

that can never be seen

just like the little birds

that fly far away       further

than we will ever know

 

* some words borrowed from “The Traveling Companion” by Hans Christian Anderson trans. Erik Christian Haugaard (“he dreamed a strange dream,” “another shovelful of earth,”      “the words became a picture,” “the little birds flew far into the world,” “the storm broke”) and from “Energy” The Art of War by Sun Tzu (“give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard,” “more hues than can ever be seen,” “releasing of the trigger,” “and yet no real disorder at all,” “the momentum of a round stone”)

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Lisa Stice

Lisa Stice is the author of the poetry collection Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in The Magnolia Review, Collateral, Split Rock Review, The Irish Literary Review, and many more. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. You can find out more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com and facebook.com/LisaSticePoet.

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