Places We Feel Warm
ISBN: 978-1-59948-849-3, 34 pages, $12 (+ shipping)
Release Date: March 11, 2021
The Advance Sale Discount price expired February 10, 2021.
For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $16/book (which includes shipping and applicable sales tax) and should be sent to:
Main Street Rag
PO BOX 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227-7001
Stephanie Kendrick works for the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities & the Albany Village Council. She is also earning a Master’s of Social Sciences from Ohio University all while juggling the other dominions of her life including motherhood, writing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and marriage. Her writings often explore that juggling act through amalgamations of memory & sensation. You can find her work in Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio; Shelia-Na-Gig, Ghost City Review, Northern Appalachia Review, Women of Appalachia Project: Women Speak Anthologies 4 & 5, and elsewhere. She is grateful for you.
In her debut collection, Places We Feel Warm, Stephanie Kendrick sneaks up from behind, barefoot, taps us on the shoulder, lures us like a will-o’-the-wisp to her deepest places, baptized in blood and water, full of family void and women who suck Coca-Cola/ through Revlon-stained straws/ careful not to fall on the moth-eaten nets/ hung by the men who leave them numb/… forgetting who they were. ~Kari Gunter-Seymour, Author of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, Poet Laureate of Ohio
What more can we ask of a poet than to pull back the curtain, lay bare a collective heart? Stephanie Kendrick does this for us with The Places We Feel Warm. This chapbook shows the complex and fierce Appalachian woman–the mother and partner, the broken and battered, the mended. The soaring. The vulnerable badass. After reading The Places We Feel Warm, you’ll be proud to know them all. ~Natalie Sypolt
Stephanie Kendrick’s first collection of poetry, Places We Feel Warm, is a ferocious debut. She offers us a clear-eyed and compassionate view of the lives of women and girls in the river towns of southern Ohio and we see our own selves gazing back at us. A wild woman, Kendrick tells us, is “[b]orn thunderstorm,/claws through placenta flood,/ howls as she discovers lightning…” and we, Kendrick’s readers, are thrilled to hear her. ~Pauletta Hansel Cincinnati Poet Laureate, 2016-2018; Author of Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of Weatherford Award for best Appalachian Poetry
Places We Feel Warm
When my son was three
he said he remembered my belly
red, loud & wet,
& he wanted back in.
They don’t know what red is, boys I mean,
like my hair no one else with my blood has, the color
of sheets hung on the clothesline to fade under sun, or
what my mother saw when a man walked into a room.
Loud like Kathy Bates wrapped in straight-jacket cellophane,
& other women who took sledgehammers
to the walls in their homes, drowning the noise with scratched records,
stories of Bobbi McGees & big yellow taxis
that can’t take us away from where we are.
Wet like dying my hair with Kool-Aid packets,
skinny dipping with boys who had fangs,
not being kissed until I was 18.
He doesn’t know what red is.
& I just said to him, Babe,
we’re too big to get back in.
There is a well in the front yard covered in plywood & if you move
the plywood to look inside, you will probably fall in & no one knows
how far down it goes or who has already fallen inside & if there is a family
of bones at the bottom that slowly dissolve & wash over your skin
in the shower, that has to be where the fire salt smell comes from.
There is a barn behind the garden that the landlord warned is falling in &
when you stack the rusted barrel on top of the feed bucket you can climb
in the window & learn to ignore creaks under your bare feet in the loft & find
a stack of musty blankets to hide under while you watch your brother kiss
strangers & don’t mind the dead birds, some naps just last longer than others.
There is a wood panel bolted to your bedroom wall that has come loose
& when you look inside all you can see is fractal black like when you close
your eyes & push your fingertips against your lids until it hurts & later,
like way later you will know this as “attic” but now you know this as “hope”
& this means that what you already know is not actually everything.
There is a sound your mother makes, hunched over the kitchen sink
that sounds like a raindrop the instant before it hits the ground, & each time
her hand baptizes rag, she squeezes weightless, wishes she still had fingernails.
When she drops the fine china on the floor beside her feet, this is not accidental.
If you think I’m going to bend backwards,
head-first in the shallow end
of the Ohio River, you have rocks for brains.
Those other kids lined up to be prayed on,
pastor sweating, tears drip from his pores,
turn to steam before cutting the surface—
tension punctuates our stories,
catfish big as cars swallow men whole,
Bobby Jo getting hickeys on the Russell Bridge,
not making it home that night.
Every damn time I have water to my knees
I am swimming away from boys who want
to dunk me under, see me drown
& still come back for air.
No thank you, preacher man,
acid draining from the holes in your face,
soaked through your Sunday suit.
I see the stains,
& there’s not enough sludge
in this whole damn river
to wash us clean.