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(For my mother)

You were a Xerox of him,
nine months printed, the flesh
colored ink of the womb still
drying. I wanted to ball you
up and pitch you like trash
into the waste-bin, listen
as you crinkle out of existence,
and then hit the print button again.

©Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem was previously published in Issue #7 of the Mississippi Crow Magazine.


Abandoned skyscrapers, swamp foxtail raised
to sway along the tide-line. We weave
out to the Atlantic between you
like ants in the shadow of your steel-stems.

Beach sand grains our feet into sandpaper,
their crunch muffled as waves zip
the water’s edge shut. You creak
with the sea’s shove like harbored barges
groan their ropes along landing piers.

Only the seagulls make use of you now,
they roost on your ledges and speckle the toilet
of your walls. White streaks of indifference,
nobody cares to clean them off.

Gondoliers punt out among you,
steering their courses with fish splashes;
relics of the lost city of Venice, they dwindle
on the horizon. The torch clad hand they sail to
reaches out from the water like a drowning victim.

©Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem was previously published in Issue #7 of the Mississippi Crow Magazine.

This skin is not Prada,
Gucci or Versace—
it was purchased in purgatory
at the Gap Outlet on the corner.

Stitched tight in the flesh suit,
I became a mirror gazer,
a Snow Queen,
how I’ve loathed that cast-back face.

All day stealing into bathrooms
to sneak weary peeks
at my ravished portrait—
watching age etch its many mars.

At first the changes were subtle,
a spot here, a pock there—
the facial geography
slowly shifted with time.

I did anything to be designer then—
washing and washing to fade,
desperately stitching on labels,
and tearing twin holes in my newness.

Never able to copy them properly,
finally, only tatters remained,
and every mirror mocked me—
sticking out its tongue at my attempts.

What a fool my reflection has been,
always focused on what I lack—
regardless we end up pressed together
on the same second-hand rack.

© Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of the Loch Raven Review.

The Cape Fear side winds
below like a snake,
its muddiness slugs
towards the Fish Traps.

Perched on granite summit
no man-hand has climbed,
I watch the fall line,
follow water with my eyes
to where boulders and foliage-
crowned islands
rend brown river white,
and fly fishers cast their lines
in a hoop out to the current.

Trees billow over;
the watercourse repels their effigy—
its screen of silt reveals no secrets.
One could plunge their beak all day
and never clamp a bite.

The Sun ignites the horizon,
an eagle owl’s eye
peeking over the Blue Ridge,
ready to blink the world into night.

Shadows dance the banks
as fins thunk within coolers
fishermen pack with their harvest.
With backs turned, they pay
no mind to their hatchling
while it breeches the coop—
pigtails sway in the breeze.

It strokes the stream, an admirer,
bends in closer and closer
to see itself—
the serpent swallows its image.

I take to the air with my catch.

 ♦This poem was published in the Summer 2007 issue of the Loch Raven Review under the title Osprey on Raven Rock.


♦View from Raven Rock, Raven Rock State Park, NC

Like water, night cascades
washing daylight away.
My window is a canvas—
a sunset by Monet.

Caked viridian hills
embrace the crimson sky
as brush-worked willows reflect
in the river each sigh.

Slack shadows tar the land
paving on what’s in sight—
in swirls of purple and blue
buds the burgeoning night.

The prismatic twilight
displayed one hour ago,
displaced by Ursa Major
conceives a dark Van Gogh.

♦ Published in the Summer 2007 issue of the Mississippi Crow Magazine.


*The Van Gogh night painting with Ursa Major in the night sky is called “Starry Night over the Rhône”


* The Monet suset in the poem is posted above, the paiting is titled “Sunset”

The night sky is scratch art,
a trillion glinting specks
stylus sketched
on a black plane,
carbon copied into rippling water.

I manipulate grains of sand
with my toes. The dark blusters
with sonance. A chorus
of horny frogs blare
over squeals of cicadas,
drowning the cricket’s frail rings.

A warm Florida breeze gentles my face,
Spanish moss sways as the moon jumps
in a flicker of yellow
back and forth in the lake.

Behind me the house is dark,
concealing its conked-out contents,
eluded in a Sominex sleep—
they cannot discern what they lack,
I’ve shed them like a skin
discarded at my back.

I disown mortality—
that flesh cocoon has ensnared me
ten years too long and it knows it, it’s ready
to give as I step onto the tide-slapped pier
and fishy-air taints my nostrils.

Brittle boards stretch out before me—
a plank that destiny blades my back to walk,
stupid pirate, I creak those slats willingly.

As I step forward a heron bursts
into the sky from the water,
white feathers spread
wide like an angel’s.

If only such beauty could change me.

♦This poem was published in The Poetry Worm 40.


* Daytime view of Lake Harney, Orlando, FL

It is simple for her to steal
off into the night
and leave her sleeping family
to their snores on the straw-tossed floor.

She slips free of the links
that fasten her to life—
her mother, father, and Joseph,
all dwindle in her mind
like a haze of memory,
she can hardly see
them in the distance behind her.

There is only Nazareth,
the white washed dwellings
that crown the hilltop
tapering down the sides;
only the crickets
bawling their buzz to the moonlight
and the sound of two lovers—
concealed by winds whistle and lost
among olive branches.

His is the face of love,
shadowed in darkness,
eclipsing the bulbil-
moon as she looks up
to the gleam of his nimbus.

For three months his chiseled body
shrouds her own, and then her
swelling belly
forces her to stay home.

When Joseph rubs a warm hand over her
lumped mound, conjured stones strike her skin
and she recalls that angel.

©Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem was previously published in the Crecent Moon Journal

It’s no night to stray,
steel-wool clouds strap
a starless sky. The heavens unleash
their arctic breath; even death
is not this chilled. Late winter
flakes her crystals to the ground;
winds kick it about in a fury.

We are lost in cloaks of white sky,
blank as air to the naked eye.
Feet crunch into snow-packed earth
as we land and shake
ice from our broom bristles, settle
among the rocks and tors, those plat-
formed crags of the Teufelskanzel.

Iced Pines enclave us, transfigured
as stones strewn about Medusa’s garden.
They descend Brocken Peak
to be devoured by the Harz’s umbrage.
Up here we dance with the crackling
sway of trees, they are raised skeletons
masquerading to the far-off roar of the Weser.

Tonight our pyres will lap at darkness
like a devil’s thirsty tongue,
all Ilsenburg will shutter
their windows— wait for spring
to come. We turn about the flames, chant
each spirit’s name. Winter winds scream
in fear. Earth’s thawing draws near.

© Shawn Nacona Stroud

This poem previously appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of the Loch Raven Review.

brocken_vom_torfhaus*The Brocken Peak in Germany is the highest peak of the Harz mountain range.




The Loch Raven Review Logo (winter 2007)

Loch Raven Review Logo Image

The winter issue of the Loch Raven Review is out featuring the work of Gary Blankenship, Jim Corner, William Doreski, Michaela A. Gabriel, Clarinda Harriss, Deborah P. Kolodji, Tammy Ho Lai-ming, David W. Landrum, Danilo Lopez, Steve Meador, Corey Mesler, Mary E. Moore, Shawn Nacona Stroud, S. Thomas Summers, Thane Zander; an essay by Dave Eberhardt and Dan Cuddy; fiction by William Reese Hamilton, Fred Longworth, Randy Rohn, Deborah C. Strozier, Howard Waldman; book reviews by Dan Cuddy, Jim Doss and Christopher T. George.  A big CONGRATS to everyone!  The new site design for this issue is excellent, and the mix of talented poets makes this issue a pleasure to read (although I have enjoyed them all so far). The editors of the Loch Raven Review are always looking for fresh voices so all you poets out there on WordPress send in your polished poems to:

 Here is a link straight to their submission guidelines:


My poem “Mary” has won 2nd place in the Desert Moon Review spring contest and was published in the 6th Anniversary Edition of the Crescent Moon Journal. Vol4 Issue 7 has been released and you can read the whole issue or my poem by clicking on the links below. Thank you James, Chris, and everyone who works so hard to put this publication together, it turned out great!

 -Shawn Nacona

 Crescent Moon Journal


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