the poetry that matters

Ronnie K. Stephens

Ronnie K. Stephens, originally from Central Texas, moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he became involved in slam poetry and immersed himself in both the academic and performance poetry scenes. He currently serves as Assistant Editor for Lamplighter Review, a bi-annual print publication.

Ronnie K. Stephens work has appeared in Poesia, Pocket Change, America, Third Reader, Fayetteville Free Weekly and Northwest Arkansas Times.




Fireblossom in a black and white


-still life-




Canvas bleeds acrylic,

tangerine and lemon bloom.


Unfold the grayscale



Creased are new lines.

Paint outside them. Bend

a poplar branch


into a myrtle wreath.

Set the forest on fire.


Shake the etch-a-sketch



Drench the word in gasoline.

Whisper it with Lucifer. She is








the morning after

I like the purple
she says.

A jack-a-lope sprints
across her eyes.

Wallabies piston
in her heart;

jumping on beds
with butterfly nets
is a newfound art.

He plucks at her skin,
fingertips strum the only guitar
his hands have ever known.

She sings melodies

Lips are mirrors.
Breath floats between them.
The koalas are swaying
on their limbs.






The measure of new silence.

It is Inis Meáin at dusk,
indigo layers draped over the wool factory,
stained glass, the stone fort
perched atop the island a crown.

It is the spun hemp
thick and woven through a limestone bed,
the onyx mussels blooming from its frayed vine.

It is the slow leak of sea foam
and the bruised marriage to twilight.

It is the crepe at your lips
and the strawberry red stain,
salt spray over barefooted strangers
and smoothed-marble coffee.

It is the first moment.
It is all that exists:

five hours in minutes.







for Anis

A slight man, your surname
means eyelash. They are the longest
I have ever seen, constant whisperlicks
against soft sand dunes, brush back
the fleeting raid. Your irises have learned
      to breathe the bitter sting of insomnia.

I wonder about the clementines you bury
inside your chest inside your poems,
what penance the orchard you plant
            in your pages pays,

how long roots have gone untended

by the muses forced to flee your pen

for something a bit more tangible.

Across the cemetery
your whitenoise conversation
rides shotgun

on the snow-littered ground.

Sata khob.






for Derrick Brown


You keep your maps in the glove box
with your heart.

You turn men crooked,

fill the blank spaces in birthday cards
with blinking butterflies.

I muttered secrets in my sleep
so you could overhear.

In my slumber I confessed the same birthday wish
I'd flung against the blackboard every year. I mean to

leave this world on purpose.

One could call Dickson St. Bookshop
a boneyard, shelves lined with spines standing
in quiet procession, paying respects to the silent


wanderer. Amidst the musty stacks you found a soldier
still lying on the battlefield, moonkissed a different fate
into his epic and set me free with a single word.








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