August 27, 2019

The Women: Poems by Stephen Jackson

The Women: Poems by Stephen Jackson
The Back of Trudy’s Head 
Everything, at once  
came to Trudy on the bus, 
the world through a window  
smeared with hair grease 
came in clear, she  
looked around at all the other 
passengers and knew us —  
felt our tension in her  
shoulders, drew a breath of  
body odor, smelled our fear. 
And the thick, pink man  
who sat ahead of Trudy 
leaned back to scratch his mat  
of ratted graying hair 
releasing flakes of skin  
down his back and in the air,  
then turned to smile a  
crooked-tooth smile at himself  
in the window, that at night  
is both a window and a mirror. 
Trudy pulled the cord  
to make the driver stop, 
as it was all that she could  
think to do, and when he did  
the doors swung open  
but Trudy could not  
get off — no one did  
but me, and I watched  
the back of Trudy’s head  
till the bus drove out of view. 
Bridgette | Since the Accident 
Friday’s the new Thursday  
for Bridgette, since she  
moves with sudden grace  
at such an elementary pace 
through space and time. 
Hurried, her peers move in  
flurries of noise and light, while  
Bridgette listens carefully for  
a voice inside her head to  
steady her through the crowd,  
the sound of waves, of  
brilliant sun, crash and scatter  
within as they take flight.   
Two o’clock’s as good as ten  
to Bridgette, since all that  
remains of time or space is  
that hint of determination 
grounded in Bridgette’s face. 

Creating Shondra 
Shondra wakes with broken glasses, 
crooked teeth, a too-small dress, 
to wonder why I’ve created her 
with nothing less than perfectness. 
She skips down stairs to breakfast,  
presses a finger to the nose of  
her glasses, holding them in place 
she frowns at me and asks, 
Why you not make me pretty  
like Cassandra on her bright red bike  
or Isaac, who I really like  
but won’t kiss a girl like me? 
And feeling bad, I think  
to change her, though every change  
makes Shondra a stranger so, Shondra,  
I tell her, you can’t be anyone else. 

Lucy | Not Lucy 
Lucy blew into the night 
a white frost of cigarette smoke,  
stunning the stars with her  
harlequin ars poetica, she 
said a few words about beads  
and birds, Pearl and paradise. 
Lucy flew like a baby bat  
through life — erratic, ecstatic,  
living like Janis Joplin-cum-  
Charlie Chaplin — out of that  
she fashioned reckless comedies  
from all life’s little tragedies. 
Lucy one drab morning woke, 
to brave the day she undertook  
the task of scratching out 
her previous life’s existence,  
then made her face up, literally  
inventing a different Lucy. 


Stephen Jackson is the originator of the Seattle small press So Many Birds publishing (SMBp), which produced Harness, an offbeat quarterly literary magazine with its eye on “what’s left of literature,” and Future+Present, a highly regarded biannual chapbook showcasing the work of previously unpublished local writers. The author of several self-published chapbooks, including Fifteen and Saturnine Lives, his poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Grey Sparrow Journal, HelloHorror, and Impossible Archetype. Please follow him at

About theJack B. Rochester

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