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C. J. Stevens

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Member Since: Aug, 2000

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House of Hang-ups
by C. J. Stevens

Friday, November 19, 2004
Not rated by the Author.
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Recent poems by C. J. Stevens
•  Warm Bread
•  Thinking of my father
•  Chairs
•  Skin
•  Snake Study
           >> View all 45

If you peel off the skin
and shove aside the crisscross
of muscles around this back
and chest, a small child
will approach you - head
down but arms out-
stretched.


                And he will take
your hand and lead you back
to where his world began:
to a woman too much in love
with a spoiled-brat man,
to a house that swallows you whole,
to a tableful of in-laws
in a bellyache of rooms.


                The child
will show you the intricate mechanism
of a wrinkle and how it works
like a time bomb on a smile
or how the shrug of a shoulder
can be deadlier than a slapped
 face or how the arch
of an eyebrow annihilates.


And the child will lead you
to bedsprings that chatter
in vacant rooms, to the club-
print of a flat-
iron in the foxglove wallpaper,
to the torn mattress,
and to the kicked Christmas tree,


                There is
even a place to hide when words
become coarse and ugly.
But coaxing won't get the child
to show you this. He drops
your hand and runs off to
be there alone.


                When the child
comes back, he won't even
touch you. What he wants now
is a scarf of muscles wrapped
around him and a tight
bandage of skin.

John Wade Publishing

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Reviewed by Ian Irvine (Hobson) 10/6/2010
The rhythms and form chosens for this piece suggest an intricate thread of interconnecting experiences - all layered in memory of course and unfolding tentatively at the behest of a shy child showing someone his world. The domestic details wound/woven into the poem give it much of its power. A haunting poem since it reminds us that there is of course such a child in every adult.
Reviewed by Janet Caldwell 3/23/2010
C.J., you are a brilliant poet. Thank you so much for gracing us with your words. :) x
Reviewed by Leland Waldrip 2/7/2006
Superb empathy of vanished happiness. Best regards,
Leland
Reviewed by Michelle Mills 1/9/2005
I'm with Jeremy. This is amazing work, written from a child's perspective. Not an easy thing to do as an adult. Michelle
Reviewed by Jeremy Vaeni 11/22/2004
Wow. I think I've found my new AD favorite.
Reviewed by Dawn Richerson 11/20/2004
this is a fabulous poem about the truths and lessons we must learn from the child that resides within. your writing here is taut and images very effective, particularly those last lines. excellent!
Reviewed by The Smoking Poet 11/19/2004
The child alongside just as the child within, leads us to what we will not see but must and finally can. A very worthy poem.
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