ISBN: 978-1-59948-846-2, ~76 pages, $14 (+ shipping)
Projected Release Date: February, 2021
An Advance Sale Discount price of $8.50 (+ shipping) is available HERE prior to press time. This price is not available anywhere else or by check. The check price is $11.50/book (which includes shipping) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001.
PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.
About The Author
Michael Steffen is the author of three previous poetry collections—No Good at Sea (Legible Press, 2002), Heart Murmur (Bordighera Press, 2009) and Bad Behavior (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2012). His poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals including Poetry, Potomac Review, Poet Lore, Rhino, Chiron Review and many others. In 2002, Michael was granted a Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives with his butt-dialing wife in Buffalo, NY.
on a careless, spiraling night flight,
absorbed by the brilliance at the edge
of its source—though they’d taste
the filament if they could, with proboscis
or feet, smoldering inside the streetlamp
divining the dark, brighter to them
than the waxing moon, as they copter earthward,
littering the wide, polished avenue,
like paint chips fallen from a blistered sky,
petals from the highest garden.
Perhaps road crossing was encoded
into the chicken, and predetermined events
triggered the courageous fowl
to take its first proverbial step
onto the searing asphalt. Why
is not important. Its motive will be
questioned for years to come,
and some may reply with punchlines—
because it was too long to walk around—
or simple statements of fact—
to get to the other side. Regardless
of purpose or the confluence
of events conspiring to effect
its crossing, it took some pluck—
traversing an interstate, being true
to its nature to forage
beyond the center stripes. No doubt
it was afraid in the face
of such danger. Who among us
could resist admiring its valor or make
the same claim to courage
and strength of conviction?
No one is certain
how many cars it sidestepped,
but it dared to dodge and succeeded,
as no other chicken had.
No marker commemorates its deed,
no bronze plaque preserves the date,
but of this we can be sure:
one pioneering avian embedded
itself in our cultural gestalt,
perhaps inspiring generations
of other chickens to other heroics.
It simply would not stop for death.
The chicken did not cross the road:
the chicken transcended it.
I’ve spent enough hours on a gurney to know
my remaining years are probably numbered
in single digits, after which I may or may not
pass through walls and join my kin
on some eternal, cloud-filled playground.
I’m not meant for heaven’s fluffy
non-landscape, or any of hell’s nine circles.
Mine is the dogma of earthly pleasure,
the crisp, made bed, the fresh linens,
the fucking, the food, the cold glass of beer.
I’ve seen the Cubs win a pennant,
my two-year-old toddle out the door
and return a savvy businesswoman.
I’ve burped my fussing grandnephew—
seven pounds in an oversized onesie
labeled, Ladies, I Have Arrived—
and already nagged him about college.
I am still in love with the scent
of freshly mown grass. Even though
my days are flaming red, veins burning
from eight cycles of chemo, even though
I feel in my blood I am inching away,
I’m not prepared for the story
that goes on without me, not ready
to relinquish the rapture
of a backyard nap in my hammock,
or the Quantum Physics for Babies
cardboard picture book
I’ve slowly read and re-read to Noah,
or the many pounds of salted cashews
I’ve yet to eat, pastrami and eggs,
peach margaritas, pizza with extra
cheese and pepperoni…
I’m not ready to give up rocking
to Beggar’s Banquet, the best album
ever made. I treasure my baggy blue jeans,
my threadbare, Harvard sweatshirt.
I’m not willing to abandon
my second favorite place in the world:
the car cemetery next to the Super 8
where—for the once road-worthy—
time continues its remorseless interrogation.