Two Poems by N. A’Yara Stein

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



“It’s insulting,” my wife says one evening,
“the way you read and think and weep.
You embarrass us with your ridiculous troubles.”

Oh darling, I didn’t deserve that. Everyone knows
the mind can be tricked by threadbare circuitry
into surreal or simple confusions.

My mind shuttles webbing across the expanse,
seeks to tie together like and like,
insists, grasping, that it understands
these five galloping wolves
that encircle each past layer of my life;
At the center ~ neurons ignited into lightning ~
an enormous man weeps for the body of woman.

Gradually, a pattern emerges, a configuration for sadness.
Labyrinths separate what we deserve from what we get.
Tell me what this means doctor, for I can’t sleep.

Perhaps its the approach of Christmas
that makes me suspect a miracle. Perhaps later,
when we are resting under the star-clogged sky,
she will turn to me and ask, “Am I still as pretty
as when we first met?” and she will watch my mouth
so I may tell her yes. Yes. More. Much more so.


There is an art of absence in the dense dash of the daily
life we all lead, the art of empty morning and night beds,
the absence of the failed promises of someone else
besides yourself, and after a while they hardly matter.
No, that’s a lie;
this absence slams your heart on day two-hundred forty-four
just as hard as the first day you parted ways.
Try to think not of yourself as wild
beast of human hope sweltered in fetid furs,
of optic nerves strained with all this not-seeing.
Come, in our spare time let’s not seek revenge
until we erode the sound of the missing’s name, turned it
from jalapeño to honey to vinegar.
Who needs to be an addict lugging a kit around
in search of a fix while love deals to someone else?
It’s easy to confuse the heart;
understanding almost always comes near the end
of the edge of patience and nothing, just when you’re ready to quit,
resist the silver charm dangled from the tongue of the beloved.


N. A’Yara Stein is a finalist in the 2011 National Poetry Series for her manuscript, Saudade, and was nominated twice for the 2010 Pushcart Prize by Apparatus Magazine and Vox Poetica. She holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and is a grant recipient of the Michigan Art Council and the Arkansas Arts Council, among other honors. The former editor of the arts quarterly Gypsy Blood Review, she’s recently published in Verse Wisconsin, The Mayo Review, Ping Pong: The Journal of the Henry Miller Library, The Chaffey Review, The San Pedro Poetry Review, The Delinquent (UK), among others. She lives near Chicago with her sons.

© 2011, Metazen.

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