Jordan Stempleman

For the Following

1.     To stay away from beans. 2. Not to pick up what has fallen. 3. Not to touch a white cock. 4. Not to break bread. 5. Not to step over a crossbar. 6. Not to stir the fire with iron. 7. Not to eat from a whole loaf. 8. Not to pluck a garland. 9. Not to sit on a quart measure. 10. Not to eat the heart. 11. Not to walk on highways. 12. Not to let the swallows share one’s roof. 13. When the pot is taken off the fire, not to leave the mark of it in the ashes, but to stir them together. 14. Do not look in a mirror beside a light. 15. When you rise from the bedclothes, roll them together and smooth out the impress of the body.

Gorgeous Features

I was ashamed of the separation,
but then I wrote NIGEL on my face,
and walked right out of the store,
assured that what I saw in the parking lot
was really going to take me home.
The extremeness is what the eyes say
they deserve. There was a time to walk out,
and that was a moment before. Now,
we are facing each other, for all we know.
And sure, somewhere we can hear someone
thinking, brutal to leave us standing here like this.


I’m waiting for what I’ve made to see. But normally
notions are kind; returns arrive with no more effort
than in changing the subject again. There is something
loosely equipped that’s consented the shy failing
of this randomness. A tampered with load of flames
swapped with whistling fur shot through a kitchen.
I am either the time that notices or the reasonable places
you know I can’t stand. There are beasts about
that are actually trying to kill each other. They work
for broken glass, turned over chairs, and clumps
of hair. I’m trusting them to raise my children and yours.

All Trojans
Above all, the fog is valid for taking the time.
Half of the book turned angry, half of the book
removed the existing tenants, replacing them
with humid proof there’d be someone who’d live,
and someone who would yell. In his pockets,
he felt huge. There is a sunset, and then there’s
consent. At the back of the house, under the pile
of stiff clothes, we see nothing, and stick to cleaning.

Jordan Stempleman is the author of Their Fields (Moria e-books, 2005) and What's the Matter and Facings, both out from Otoliths in 2007. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, New American Writing, Outside Voices: 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets, and P-Queue.

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