Jeanine Stevens


On the train to Rome, cigar smoke clouds my window;
people eat mortadella and a porter sells gum and mints.

I travel to a sacred place, discover a broken latch.
In prayers of my own device, I question myself.

We know that image, fluid and ever-changing.
For hysterics, pause, take a whiff of valerian.

The story spins in the night. I’m unhinged by stars;
this tale is one of a single dog drinking fetid water.

Seaweed bends to the pressure of water. In my pea-
green boat, I want to go down to the purpling ocean.

A woman carries a milk jug, a flute plays under a
banyan tree. Returning, nothing will look the same.


In Istanbul

A clear autumn morning, the police station explodes in Istanbul.
Sea bass flood fishing boats, appear at the market in Istanbul.

At the ruins, hundreds of feral cats sip water from blue tiles.
The wooden horse is splintered and needs a polish near Istanbul.

My dress is Liz Claiborne from J. C. Penny’s. The music is gypsy,
the flute made of PVC pipe and the wine flows free in Istanbul.

Ataturk’s photo is removed from school books. When will the
next caravan arrive? Will the oil in our lanterns last in Istanbul?

Droves of pumpkin vines encircle the old walls of Istanbul.
Black Sea watches orange heads loll at the gates in Istanbul.


Academic Options

The melons are small but deep coral and sweet, the bread
unleavened, and tea strong as earth is served in small cups.

At lunch in Ankara, I watch new students enter the university
gates loaded with computers, posters, trunks and optimism.

Somewhere along the Silk Road, a woman is singing.
She bends down, delights to a find a discarded cell phone.

In a small bookshop in the Sierras, the owner drinks
a second pot of coffee and writes about his love for Siberia.

Noon on a Friday. Refuse trucks retreat, and gardeners take
away the noisy mowers. Crimson ash leaves sear the ground.

Inside hidden caves, stunning parchment frescos gleam.
The call to prayer is unheard. Caravans don’t travel this far.


Jeanine Stevens has an MA in Anthropology and studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, the Ekphrasis Prize, Bay Area Poet's Coalition Award and the Stockton Arts Commission Award. A Pushcart Nominee, she has two poetry collections and eight chapbooks. Besides writing Jeanine also enjoys Tai Chi, Romanian folk dance and collage. Her artwork has illustrated some of her chapbooks and been published I various journals.