Three Poems by Stephani E.D. McDow

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Cosquilla

you provided for me make-believe-come-real
fairy tales tangible and new<
you added texture to my paintings
grains of heaven engulfed in color and hue

linear needs met wavy dreams and formed you

curious about your beginnings after my acceptance of now
I believed,
let go and inhaled the sweetness of your song
(knew then that one’s breath tastes like the Caribbean fruit
that intoxicates and kneads my independence into your silly putty)

ooh and so warm and new
I’d dreamed of one day meeting then
having you

only to wake and find
never true
never mine
never more for real

or as real as my heart made you
I feel

determining farce from evident is beneath my ill-acceptable abilities today
and it is in these that, sadly, my uncertainties now lay

when . . . I just want to hear it again

and
be who I’ve dreamed of me.

ThoughTrain

An empty kiss won’t suffice
though considered and daunted upon
rendering a finality of pointlessness and
void.

Absolution of touches missed
radiate louder than a steel chisel against a tin drum
cracking me down the center and
shaking truth to defeat.

Depressing titles show minimalist interest in
heartfelt understanding, in
other folk shoe-wearing, in
simply, silently listening.

Not asking to be fixed is
seemingly overlooked and
friends break out the tools and lumber anyway
instead of just letting.

It’s only the beginning of
the intermission. Get some Goobers
Powder your noses.
Life will resume. . . shortly. . .

Now

I believe that your true strength rears its head in the midst of pain and distress

Not because you’ve said it’s so or how you show its true
in your walk or in the words you use but

When you can’t breathe

That look that flashes across your face or when your eyes give voice to the blood-curdling sobs from your soul
I believe it’s at the cusp of such that your calm is the only thing that makes sense in the moment,
and

When it feels like your skin is being ripped from your flesh
or your spirit is being tormented
it’s that space that you unwittingly settle into
with acute senses analyzing and calculating every move and sound made in your now
and formulating the appropriate response
With ease
and confused certainty.

When the sound of your voicelessness walks you through all the truths
alongside the dramatically timed base of your heart keeping pace to the greatness of how you deal

It’s surreal. That clarity that encompasses you with grave urgency
because right now is the only time

and without external coaching or coaxing
all of the information you need is palpable and strikingly clear (to you)

It’s imperative to be this present presently
to live the predetermined law that
You matter

And no matter what is before you, regardless of the clutches within which you weep
You are not defeated.

Stephani E. D. McDow, poet and writer, is published in Raven Chronicles Press’ Take a Stand: Art Against Hate Anthology, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Genre: Urban Arts No. 7, “Femme Literati: Mixtape Anthology,” and armarolla. Formerly a contributing author at Woman Around Town and freelance writer/editor, Stephani’s work has been praised by award-winning editor, writer and journalist, Susan L. Taylor; and award-winning author and editor, Charlene Giannetti. Stephani is a nonprofit professional, member of RAINN’s speakers bureau and a social justice advocate. A native D.C. Washingtonian, she currently resides in Maryland and is working on completing her first novel. Learn more by visiting http://stephanimcdow.com.

ote from the Editor: “Cosquilla” and “ThoughTrain” appear in an anthology by AfroLatinx writers, Diaspora Cafe D.C., a collective investigation of survival by writers within a system that deprioritizes their existence, published by Day Eight. Purchase it and other Day Eight books at http://dayeight.org.

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