PoetryIssue 02 | December 2008

Two Poems by Paul Christian Stevens


We navigated towards the exit from the dense
machine of England’s acres, running away from
the ranks upon ranks of power-pylons, which strode
everywhere with some fixed purpose, across the hills
and hedgerows. We steered away, under a low-ceilinged
sky, through people and cars packed hard together
in endless gridlock, inching our way nervously across
the Severn Bridge’s span, which disconcertingly
swayed in the air that rushed up the Bristol Channel:
until, Croeso i Gymru — we reached the farther shore,
where a Red Dragon gestured from a field of heraldic
green, pointing up to the limitless white. We accelerated
into the woods and hills, suddenly freed from
England’s ordered, engineered artifice.

Now, wild in russet and green, trees leap, mounting
unsculpted, rough ridges, careless of plan; and the gothic
arches of Tintern Abbey detach themselves from earth
to float skyward too: masonry parabolas, gaunt,
skeletal tracery; they lift from where
cold culvert, drain and sump gather, collect,
and channel density away, so stone can climb from earth
as buttress, pillar, column, arch — so stone divests
itself of gravity, and levitates. In this close warming
room the shivering monks huddled away from
the carved halls, the brute corpse-chilly blocks that built
the abbey. Their souls lifted too, away from winter
and world, to follow the Galilean’s heavenward
gaze, whose eyes peered through the material
seeking out death, who inspired this leap of stone
and soul to sail away, to cut free from life, lofting
into the eternal. Way above the buildings, an airbus,
silent from here, makes tiny, deceptive motion
westward towards America, towards some new world.

As we studious groundlings picked our way beneath
this broken lacework of arches, the crack and tear
of air split by a jet fighter’s sonic boom
smacked the sky flat down, ripped back the fabric.

On a tumbled carved-stone rosette, in a row of fragments
on the abbey’s floor of grass, I found, neatly placed,
the fresh, severed leg and furry paw of
some small creature: rat, squirrel, pixie.

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About the author

Paul Christian Stevens has boated down the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, supped on shark’s fin in Hong Kong, drunk ale in England, breakfasted with orangutangs in Singapore, stood at the Tree of Life in Bahrain, sipped kava in Fiji and Coca-Cola in the Cook Islands, traveled up the Gordon River in Tasmania by flying boat, and journeys often to the Heart of Darkness. Born in Yorkshire, England, Paul now lives in Australia with his wife and numerous children, pets and citrus trees, and teaches Literature. Editor of The Chimaera and The Shit Creek Review, Paul is widely published online and in print, most recently or forthcoming in Shakespeare’s Monkey, Lucid Rhythms, Soundzine, qarrtsiluni and Mannequin Envy.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok