the poetry that matters

Lance C. Stemen

Lance C. Stemen was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and raised in rural Illinois He spent 51/2 in the United States Army as a tank gunner and a civil affairs liason, based out of Germany, serving in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is enrolled at Southern Illinois University as a creative writing student.  His work has been published in Arsenic Lobster, Grassroots, and The Melancholy Dane and has a forthcoming collection entitled sky poetica.  Lance C. Stemen is currently teaching English in the French public school system in Kourou, French Guiana.


            The tautological soul-hymen, two-way

            mirror, piggy base impulses share borders

leaning against the shedding of softbody,

deposit prostitution at the bottom

of each thunder-voiced holyman tidal pool.



Aesthetic Rape


If an A-frame sprawls, it embodies

An accordian-jack,

            Enhanced by high


Tweed, and lacerations across her back—

It plays the role of an adjustable pyre,

            Freezing with


And fire churning blue plastics— There’s a milk

Crate full of homemade


            In the back

Room— We hijack amps to launder the Orange

Vinyl, tarnishing brass

            For camouflage,

            Now we can

Secretly refurnish the oxidized pig-house

Overlooking the federal

           Watertable cliffs—

           In times

Like these, stereo-ready hiss is the universal


            Sometimes tile

            Means black tubing

Screwed into the ditch— Stacks of it send

A vote (blindfold)

            Of confidence

            to the shaming life

Which atomizes over stinking fields

Of sweetcorn skin,

            Always in need of intestinal


Never satisfied with current

Routing systems—


            By cohabitation,

It can still even today inject

A series of vacuum tubes into an organ


            To slow it down,

And pull out the hidden soft palate

Of a human in proverbial burqa

            Like a dry-scroll


Of burlesque house wallpaper,

With a brass-jacketed

            Tracer slid cold

            Into an asshole,

In a wet basement,

The lead point pressing inner shit

            Like a red blood

            Cell sprung

From a cat— The sinew

Strikes an Irish rebellion chord—



Takemitsu Cage


Apricot blur, andro music

Winds around like butter slides down my neck to perpendicular

            Traffic noise falls impressionistic on rainy

            Streets, a carbonation

Exploding in the channel of our open breakfast window constitutional,

More than what should silence

            Academic piano to resonating shame,

            Injured music, no bones­— Its heat signature

Overlaps w/ contraption

And girl-cum— The birthday present in the corner—

            Every breath a documentary—




            A nothing a porcelain token, urban remarks,

            position-emaciating deities as we know

them, heated to bursting points in seamery,

expired shrapnel, you are driven I am driven.





Dialysis in there— Sherpa

Blood— Air so blue

            It's actually sky— Half-yeti

            Inside, waiting to shed


So to walk no encrusted—

            Crowbars thrusted

            Burnthanded they skin

The torrid earth

Dirtpretty— Salt women burn

            Coffee women, beating together

            With sight unseen

Testaments— An ancient storm

Blocking young light—

            With a scarred cross

            In her forehead

She carries broken teacups

To a salt harvester’s

            Bed— The boiling

            Rainbow mineral field

Is watched; barefoot

And shirtless, Kalashnikov across

            The back— Altitude—

            Top oblivion

World on Hard Kilimanjaro—



75 miz Reuters


A pasteltone helmet rolling in the Bastille roundabout

Like a gyroscope enveloping a lost head—

            Debris on the river is a pedestrian touching the houseboats

            Before sinking—

Commercial District- armpitstain halo, barrier, crust wall

Of stacked yellow salt—

            Digital voice echoes like a DJ of old-skool hyperrealism

            Off stone pilots

            Legs of a bridge a petrified mantis—

Stencil of a sniper gliding three jump drives into his shirt pocket—

            Downtown hardens beyond stone, the silk flags

            Render more shine, dimension—

Scape is the stylized red star in the center—




            Invisible bread we pass from hand

            to hand, above our heads on the window

society polygon, a heavy quietness,

ginger stacking, tantric billowing

the airspace of burial ground, so post-ritual

open to a retrograde wishing well.





Shit-faced— Hairbiting— A nautilus groveling

Above brackish canyon overwalks,

            I highdive

            From a totem

Pole’s maintenance plank, mocking waterbeads

Popped into in the air

            From taut silk,

            Like snapping

A leather belt at children to forge

Iron-down buckle—

            You, a concubine

            Approaching the barrel vault,

Are standing in my radius— The amoeba

Skin, the ribbon candy on the sidewalk,

            You can feel

            It blocking

Something better than what we take

Into our lungs each day—

            Too many different ways

            To paint lungs,

They’re pink and for the upkeep— They are only

The bellows— My hand wants to cup

            Your dangling


I want the body to split with adornment

Like a Sequoia log in the Nile,

             Its orchid flesh

            A swallowed bag

Of texture incarcerating the perfumed air,

Dissecting the bellowed tweed

            Of dead accordion—

            Reeds fly

In mock gore, mock execution of soul,

Uncoiling in the current

             A delta

             Of cider-delicate tiles—



Light at the End of the Attik


Orange crosshatch not truly if

taken from an attacked billboard shatter,

reconstructed five noises of sanctuary

lined up as holy books

to subvert the violated ocean

drunk in our sleep,

we are at the mercy of digital paper,

so dead then. We read light now.

What are you saying? To be in the motion

of light, do you understand?

This is grace. The black plastic square

on the table. It shines in the pocket,

doesn’t have any wear marks.

Take your thumb and flick

it over the fence, for the others.




            Down a corridor the eye-catchers ring

            internal bells and spawn from oil

your essential wings, you are a holy

we are a holy fingerprint disguised

as a broken schematic for daisychains.



American Summer Night [as pinnacle]


An imagine, inkish fluid that toggles

A bodylike form,

            Product of maroon-drip

            Sex (not allowed behind doors)

That washes nerves, the same guarding

My outstretched fingers— A stack of railroad

            Ties— Two train axles

            And the smell of pitch— The antique

Locomotive is reference, dissected— A manual

For a dead car

            Nobody owns,

            A boiler plate monument

To the black burnscars on our foreheads—

American shamans aren’t invisible,

            They’re supposed to hide

            In the Mobius drainpipe Main

Street— They swallow syrups in varieties,

A mix of ginger-faced jake-leg

            Moratorium and swamp-root

            Fabricated methane

Brackets— And nobody says anymore— On sallow

Nights when my teeth are stinging,

            Curious scrawlings fall

            From my legs on corners

I turn like wood shavings, cold arcs

I could’ve made in snow, the way children imitate

            The clothing

            That angels would

Wear— Where to stompwalk, where to underscore

A prospect, something that would inflate

            A man, an open-handed

            Oil sheen after

A rain that echoes longer than it exists— Low-house

Chimney the only stain of tomorrow,

            The bulblike clouds

            Won’t push down

Tight on the open beach, under the seahorse

Of a tilted lighthouse—

            Caged rust bleeds

            Inside rocks that split

Up from the grass— Rust is a motif, they call

It cancer— The wind is ocean

            And the machine

            Drowns— I have a shivering chest

Swollen w/ angry moths— Breathing in sleep

Like a mushroom of bubble-like

            Clarity, coughing

            Up a streamline

Kiss— A memory w/ no division carving

Down the center of Lebanon,


            Turned the lamp-posted

Streets into a slow-motion chiaroscuro—



The Walls are Peeling


I get mad that he believe

Punks just stand Germans— This scene

            With the straight language, the same in capture

            His calling him traffic off the sidewalk,

Often a stretch of was a very deeply

Apocalypse— I don't who walked past him

            Minutes his eyes looked sound

            Of his preaching sounds, view to panoramic a hard time

Truth to the world sounds

Like a bible— I could tell he was, he wasn't talking

            To anyone— Few minutes humbling

            Away from the indulgent,

The goal is aggressive and the deepest

Violations of spirit— Dismissal of public coitus

            And riments in filth, Thrill of health risk

            Standing water on the floor—

The walls are peeling—




            If the empty plate of this region literature

            burns with hunger more,

the most, read quietly, slow, this word

is food, so is this one.





It peels from me, like mosquito screen

My gas stations the mummified

            Coconut in my backpack, fibers cropped

            Back w/ a hand-sharpened

Machete too much resembling the back

Of a woman’s head— Dark steep—

            Sour lipstick melter, red-skinned

            Trucks, enamel plating— Lead

Flakes of a sailboat halfway sunk,

Fattening in front of mudskipper colonies

            Where water meets the concrete

            Skid— Great mushroom

Breezes invade the corners of skin life

Like scaly whitewash, the browned

            Seafoam air

            Causes a worm surface

As if flames had touched everything— Now

The sour smell of a doused

            Campfire, only vultures

            Overhead and in the mango trees— A dreadlocked

Man w/ crutches carries a headless

Shark past the shops like it

            Wasn't wet or leaking blood— The squashed iguanas

            On the road are a truncated fleshy

Root, striking green and boiling

Out pink tubing— Rainclouds

            Come in steamrollers over the sea and drop

            On bent roofs, tin wrappings, a land

Dwelling’s catamaran, peeling skins

And skins of insulation,

            For downpours downpour, our bed and creamy

            Sleep thoughts in the shifting dishwater

Sea boils a dynamo

Hum— Red cholera loverings

            In moist ashes, death street and pastel canary

            Essence tied to driftwood crosses,

Zouk-love on Vespas—

We wash our apples in a stagnant

            River of red tea— God needles our neglected fingers

            Like a white stenciled nomenclature,

We hang our laced hammocks from high points of rubble,

The shimmering textile—




            How you talk… someone else’s death?

            pipes routing the outline of slum ghost

village their patron saint is a damp washcloth

over the eyes nose and mouth.



Traversing the Shadow


Notre Dame de Paris is the motor box,

The iron lung suffocating me,

            The architect’s jejunum 

            Pumping green

Water and electronic scrapes across the spires of black copper,

Across the soiled blind bones

            Of beggars who kneel

            In front of foreigners across that delicate Rilke-soul

X-ray that must be a love-layer

Between a ghost and a warm

            Heartbeat— Her dark air washes me away—

            I want to feed it bread—

The day, the injured bird,

Thousands of hands faded in soil generations before the last rooster

            Was planted to point

            Out this syphilitic

Wheel-turning among the burning

Wheat— Our reaching torch imitates a mountain,

            An of-world stalk

            they calcify

With darkened taragon body odors— The clouds

Dance above without dispersing—




            Canyonbed wood particles, vicariously

            tracing infinity signs in sync

with x-ray view of floor plans

for CCTV, vectors chasing smooth-skinned

life with superimposing dimensional

protrusion  // bag of assorted chrome

bolts look good for show but hardware

regardless, crystals of jade

            the tool kit carried and flung mercenary

            character-like;  iOscillate, iVicarious,

            one layer neverending overhang.



Root Harmony


Charlie Parker made chains— He could spit phrases

Of double helices w/ hearts made of exploding

            Bernie Madoff sunrises— Wintertime

            On the highway, this fog town is a hamster

Wheel, this is writing to nail a picture frame

Onto the surface of a river— Clear, less angry,

            Glowing more off the predawn—

            With eyes closed I see the orange beards

And blue palms of the outer villages, two Spanish kids

Dumpster diving in the Métro—

            Coconuts litter the patio— The bedroom

            Shakes when a train goes by— The carpet dust

Is a coughing saint— Outside the grains

Of an anthill take in some heat— What flavor of lost scriptures

            Perfumes the room w/ a lazy eye?

            Where can we not touch? Are my eyes to hollow

Out, then hallow, then turn toward a Mecca

Under construction? I know a bungalo,

            Sorry I mean a cubby

            Where the red cedar veneer keeps rabbits

Asleep till their food turns— Are you

Happy? Look, blue and yellow rain

            On your bare shoulders— I’m chasing a sturdy goldfish

            Around the pool— He’s never heard

Of dying— Like all animals, a living garment for the divine

Gift of never seeing it coming— Is this tunnel

            Of daylight a room full of toys

            On the floor? A honey that doesn’t rot?

A banana shit, this visceral flesh has fibers,

Forked tongue the sinews of structure,

            Its masses of material intended for seeds,

            For animals to move, yet I eat, I yank up

A greasy drain plug from the double-slipper

Clawfoot tub and pull out a string

            Of grey fat, and jar it up— Negative egg yolks

            Shine in the bottom of my coffee mug—

We feel it close— I feel it close—



A country yells at its nations like cats

In a dark cave— It forces their snouts in a rut,

            Washes their clothing together to come out a grey-pink,

            Vomited cotton candy— The nations

Have discolored spots on their beautiful

Faces— The men don’t care where their shoes

            Are— The women shit together—

            All the kitchens are strung-up fish, golden lanterns

Spilling dishwater everywhere— Soot and pink corn

Skins atomize the breezes and congregate

            On brick walls, the back alleys

            Lying perpendicular atop a warm bed

Of earth apples— Brown skin over beige flesh,

Tight pods bursting w/ sugared

            Blood, blooming consortiums of un-pigmented

            Flowers in the sober gaps of dank soil

Between sewer routing and the electric

River— The brothers move to the stairs,

            Hanging laundry on cinder

            Blocks while making crosses out of rakes

And shovels on the Sunday lawn— They bullshit

About the tires that protect tugboats

            Down in the harbor, worn down

            By truck and tractor from the geothermal

Regions— There’s an Industry down

There whose collateral damage cancels

            Out homegrown dance numbers— The front doors

            Have signature hand gestures; fluted arms

Sliding into corresponding lockers— They sing

It all down w/ a reduction melody

            That establishes a need for abandoned

            Warehouses— The roots are neither seen nor dug

For because they can puncture skin

And will have secretions, like a voyeur watching

            Their most homeless hour (and finding them dripping

            With semen)— We walk over the fruit,

And ripely buzz w/ a blinding

Music, the left-handed counterpoint

            Flaunting deep rumbles underneath

            Melody— Even things that shouldn’t turn

Will turn like a Dutch windmill w/ rigor mortis,

Dry-popping, dismantling, a skywriter protesting

            Without a parachute— On airstrips

            And overpasses, black and orange

Stripes tell a warning— The love of labor can smash

Dignity, along with dignity’s illegitimate brother

            The ruptured sturgeon egg—




            against the illustrious drip, a backdrop

            of exaltation via bicycle kick against sweeping

logos choke pristine a kilometer

stadium radius, viscous meniscus, sophistication

not benevolence, versus tricolor blood on sides exporting

their stomping grounds

only with less concern for aftermath.



This World is Only One Place


Belonging to all things

Umbilical, your love in this world

            Is an electron cloud— It will hypersculpt

            Me, my face, my blood,

Right in front of your eyes— You already knew

That our shower was a crucifix,

            You just forgot— It was buried in Art Deco,

            In fruit-crusted ideas

Of flutes and marshmallows,

In castrating this world’s

            Dialogue into a motif, arpeggios

            Of skylines where your fear of all creatures

Exoskeletal lives, in belly button fat—

The stagnant water, the mosaic,

            The ablution, green spots on the brass

            Rackage. A window wants to break—

The door is off its hinges— My rifle

And these mosque stairs

            Are clean, but a tree frog lives in the chamber,

            Preventing the cycle

Of ammunition— You found

Your way through the Hindu-Kush valley

            While I slept,

            Just to kiss my cheek— Now you

Be the laws— You make light any way you like—





down one half turn the shift selector

turns the steel crosses underneath

steel on skin covers dirt and other

skin wanting motion on slight down


brass spokes under dirtbike wood

grain in desert rally wet junctions

ripped four-up on main heart tubing

the thick one like a clarity in brass



†Analog Dawn



Azure them, the ethereal fabrics—

Their aluminum dews wrinkle,

            Grow pissy aromas in sky milk,

            In cold nostalgia of cold coffee,

Ground by stone and hand

For dawn­— 

            Be a better lovebird, deliberation-fuck—

            Fresh w/ dusty mud, something’s made sacred,

Cold and wet, full of halitosis,

Mystic wombs and dirty body

            Working for something—

            Taking the girl to a dirty place,

Washed away, the girl disappeared

Who was here before—

            Tantric machine and self-replicating—

            Barista sacrosanct, iced naked,

Sliding brisk thru a railway arch,

Mountain shanks the sky— Mountain beards,

            Village clarity, rotting logic, harvests

            In illiterate soil;



A bomb A nation zen tapestries,

Junk in the sky for everything that’s warm is good,

            Without mind and/or recognition

            Warm in each other is warm in the world—

Piss and squat down— Already entered

The lexicon— Down—

            —A manmade value— Against the kayak womb,

            Blue drumskin in river foam,

The yellow clawmarks of a dying tree’s flesh—

Strewn hot on the ground in the empty space left,

            The wind blows thru it,

            It could have been shaped like a man—

The Mayan reliquaries

Keep a lantern burned to my cheek,

            In the soil holes where shade collects the coldness—

            At night everything is a fabric—

Destroyed A.M. of it, independently of ego—





IL 251


Dead grass; Contraption—

Pastel, sun-rustoleum \

            Ghostcorn must.  Hot rotten =

                            Silent jobber in the Diffuse’s

                            Portside tangent swing-by­—

In Treeline, tumorpuff, God’s country,

Refusing to explore,

          Maybe w/ digital audio—



Love Emission [parking structure]


Back-alley diode is a conjunction,

A frog's ochre handsails blooming radial

            Symmetry under garbage

            Truck shade, splashing chalked wipeouts across spike-and-arrow

Tapestry, each brick morsel-strung

On pneumatic pistons,

            Amino acids,

            A cast-iron universe has a stretch-life,

A chainlink fence

On a wrist rocket— Warm breath glides between cold fingers 

            And I see the cooing day bake,

            See by light of mortician

Burn. You reel off man-made noises,

Around us they sound better in-head than air

            In putty, like when you gather

            What love indexes,

Your head instrument

Is greedy, falling outside, striving to lay a streak

            Before it dies there— We meander,

            Many natures

Can follow you a place

No one touches, there is nothing a droplet 

            The sap falls dangerous, jar

            A faded label

fashion, which depth is the feel

In primal, inside

            Are the roots of my tree­—

            You say a train pulls constructions?

Some vertical splay

Shafts of townlight onto a timetable

            Of erotic,

            A woman walks away w/ hands

In the air, these wall-things

On the move carry a function

            Near the card-carrying

            Seriousness of checking the torque

Of your retainer bolts— They drag

Only shadow

            Pulses, chop the smoky sun on mural


I refuse to put my tongue that way

Or on anything—



American Samurai


Architect, son

Of a tradesman—

          Eats lots of sushi and river fish,

          Carries a gun under a welder’s jacket—

Dreams of his teeth rotting out,

Ignores music—

          Machinery blocks the road, w/ jealousy

          For a watertight universe

Of a big fried breakfast,

Durable clothing, and tinted eyeglasses—

          Waking up before the sun,

          And still knowing where to go—

Gravel roads at night,

Vulgar engines

          Run dumpers and spotlights

          In empty dark space—

Mysterioso in the factory,

Till the first celebration

          Is a lonely place inside the day—

          Otherwise in the futility of the

Chase of the Femineen Hijack-

Under blankets, away from the sky,

          Wrapping up tight away from

          The day and the sun, working—

Frustration, vague desire to do

Something Jesus would follow,

          Hair spit and blood, sexual discipline—

          Clean and tidy, evolution refinery—

Nighttime furies, the accomplish lists go on, 

—Laziness, Bone Marrow, Sexuality, Cathartic—

          Words fail, but there are people

          You can only touch—



Forest calls out,

Bed calls out—

          Heart blinders, ear plugs,

          Obliviously random song

Of the suitcase for

Lonely pilgrims—

          Kamilika, take a bath in us—

          Use the good-natured hibiscus—

Indian mint is a can of worms,

With saturated pigmentation—

          Uvé-Muvé sweats a green taster—

          Man you fact sure!

Oil in rainbow water,

Kicked out the wife,

          Brown suitcase

          With a sleeve drug thru mud—

A hole in the sidewalk,

Jaded lanterns reflect the rainy concrete—



          Ghosts, masturbators,

          People w/ dead relatives—

Eating city sidewalks,

Eating alcohol-aluminum,

          Eating wearily,

          Out of necessity—

Aural, track lighting-

Demonic yellow of bowling alleys—

          Albanian cappuccino girl watches him

          Reject blind folk songs—

Concrete, warm, the roadside

World has no home—

          Urban gravity hills,

          Wet-lick river,

Kids throw rocks at an immortal—

Karma, youth and sadness,

          Feeling his heart-

          Solar plexus, tension halo—

Mama Shelter Sister say fucked,

Sandstone Abbey Sister see downward—

          What is he breathing,

          Stagnant beard, Translucent,

Placating the life cycle,

Feeding the world’s food—

          Gas Station Sister need breath,

          In a closed mouth—

Fiend is him lying, Carolina

Cream Starfish in a tobacco field—

          Jungle in the life,

          Eunuch in a bedsheet—

Then they asked, how do you feel? -Flavorless—

Like I taste everybody from a distance,

          But they can’t get anything out of ME-

          Then his girl said, -I can taste you—

When I bite your shoulder,

Tastes like insomnia, sensory overload—

          /like a Suicide Soda-





Perceive is all of you, there was nothing

to say. Rattle brackets, chugging out,

drawbridges taken out of context,

singing to expel waste. I build comfort

in bi-product focused ways, meanings

to be rejected, puzzle pieces belonging

to a larger landscape not wrangled

into a box already, brutal houses

of cast-concrete scattered in Ottoman’s

low valleys, frozen semaphore clusters

spelling out grey façades of fajr. Moving

to the right, moving to the right again,

a bull implodes in front of the fountain.

We seek the sinai wash of exposed re-bar,

the rejected building’s natural fist

of dissent, indicating rusty, and skyward

faults boiling from skate platforms.

Individual clouds align with the ground,

resonate rotate wave and click, blue-clawed

intertidal crabs waving in the air, passing

gestures downline, personal literary tornadoes.


                                                                                                                                       Feb 24, 2011 Bookmark and Share