Archive for December, 2011



Indignant death you suffered

across the bleeding grass

of my front pasture

my husband who dug his

shovel deep in your abdomen

possibly a broken spine

four spindly legs

reaching hooked claws

twisting upwards spasmodically

towards a tortured sky.


What did you do so wrong?


It spooked the mares my husband choked

an animal lover himself

forced to choose

compelled to protect one thing

while harming another.


It didn’t make it any easier

to know you might have babies

anticipating your return with

food for their starving bellies . . .


perhaps you were somebody’s mate

as he waits for you back at the den

never to see you again.


Even you knew

(as most wild things do)

survival is harsh

each moment endured

like it was your last

what will you succumb to first

the elements or a predator?

But you lived to the fullest

fought till the very end

and it didn’t make it any easier

my friend.


Sure you expected to die

but not like this

not today

the sun was shining

the snow was melting

you’re young

this sounds familiar

believe it or not

even to humans.


Was there ever a chance

you wouldn’t have gone in vain?


There was always the

wheels of a careless John-Deere

or the screech of a Semi

that couldn’t swerve.


And now it comes down

to this

so seemingly innocent

you were in the wrong place

at the wrong damn time

and it just so happened to

be ours.


I must ask myself,

the Universe, is

there ever, for anything,

a convenient time to

die or be killed?

We all know the answer.


Whatever the reason,

I begged my husband

to bury you where he

found you


not leave you there for

the buzzards to pick

your untimely bones.


That’s the last thing

I said that day to the

man I married

as I shuffled away, slumped,

in my bedroom slippers

back turned

no one to hear the tears.


Whether you flirted

with progress or disaster,


does it really matter,


nobody wins.



© Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Oh Forest!

Oh Forest!

So you would teach me hunger,

surety of hoof and wing,

all that would join in tamed song,

          goodbyes cloaked in

                   hums and whistles

or fail to show up at all

come the lonely dawn.

I would weep,

heavy as sheets of Monsoon,

drone expel from wicked sky

opening those liquid doorways


brittle bones.

I am forever unsatisfied.

I taste the bitter leaves,

          how unassuming

                             beauty falls.

Touch thorny weeds and feel

cold pebbles that

                   mattress rivers

or weigh out the

slime from demon bogs.

          Sleep on fallen wild berries,

stamping into sweet existence

crimson raspberry mash as

I go.

Who can fathom loss, its mighty

soar with amber eyes like

a splendorous Owl, hint of

          tweaked thunder hidden

in the limp of a Silver Wolf.

Wide-eyed stallion never falters,

neither my faith nor plight

          of splintered lust.

For I am what I am,

          immortal below

Divine smile,

without remorse

          or blind curse

                   broken with

                             edges of mathematical pain.

Show me evolutionary stars;

a great fire’s center,

spit of Cactus tear

or the Sequoia’s core that

                   reeks of musk millennia.

Nothing can halt me,

                   or help me turn

                   pages any faster.

Not your faint love,

a fading perfume unsure

                   of prowess,

not twigged claw or

                   crooked beak.

Oh Forest!

So you would teach me

it’s not just the Dreamer who

stays hungry,

                             but the Dream.


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf


In the Nursing home,

my father seemed so small,

not the towering burly figure

I remembered as a child,

the whiplash of his tongue

tall as Aspen Pines;

the crest of his anger

rising and falling

like the Man in the Moon.

Now he peered out from

behind glazed over eyes

barely recognizable except for their

surrendered blue

which was hard to accept.

Just five more years,” he said to me.

“All I want is to live five more years.”

He was 85.

I think three weeks passed when he

stated this.  Then the

dreaded pneumonia, which seems to

rob the elderly most


well it found, and claimed,

him too.

One rough night of painful

breathing and never saw

the dawn of his 86th light.

He had never asked for much,

except, perhaps, that I be perfect,

which of course I wasn’t.

And if he came back alive today,

he surely

would have said,

that’s what killed him.

But despite the relationship

we never had,

the embrace that would never come,

the shadow of his voice,

(which is all an echo is),

won’t leave me.

The memory of his one

little wish

never leaves me.

Are we all to end up an

echo inside someone’s head?

Five more years…

                             Just …five…more…years


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf




God, I need you now,

can you visit

for just



If I could, I’d fax

or email you

every day.

I’d put you

on speed


I would turn around

and you’d be

standing there,

and with your



you’d delete away

all broken

songs, paste

in its place



Oh I know my

prayers have been

many; maybe some



But something tells

me you never

laughed, that you

hear each one ~

and for all

those not yet


they’re in the


process of



The dreams ~ the

many starry dreams

I’ve so longed for…

forgetting to enjoy

the one



The one you gave

me unconditionally,

this immortal

gift of

life I already



Are we in your browser,

Heavenly Father,

as you scan and

Google this expanse

of universe

and intangible


for our faint

breaths infinitely

dear and



I hear your golden

Trumpet voice

splice the white noise

that hides in

the plasma


Will you ride in

on the beautiful

white stallion

Gabriel who

was my



God, I know that

each and everyone

of us is

in your


It is us

that accidently

step away,

erase your



It is YOU, O’Lord,

as the

Bible proclaims,

that restoreth

our lost

and wanton


God, I need you

now, yesterday

is too


Besides, I’ve lost

my phone and

all its

apps and contacts.

Thank goodness your


is imprinted






© Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Kiss the sky


Why have you fallen

I asked of the baby bird

Only days from its shelled cocoon


And now fallen from its nest of siblings

In mother’s fated absence.


Oh! What she will find in her regal dismay

When she returns from her diligent


Hunt for elusive worms

Now stuffed ever gently in her beak

For two chicks, now,

Not three.


(I wondered sadly if she would notice.)


I had learned as a child

Not to handle fallen chicks ~


Not to drench them in human scent

Or mother might possibly, and

Most probably,

Will reject.


When she circled out of the sheets of space

And close to the nest, I backed into


Brush so as not to frighten her at

Finding once less child to feed.


I heard her chirp change to

A frantic octave


Beady eyes darting this way and that,

Knowing something

Surely was



She satisfied the other starving mouths

But she never once

Stopped fluttering nervously,




Calling, for something she

Didn’t know quite yet

She’d never

See again.


Why can’t she pick him up, what

Good are beaks and wings

If not to save your own?


And he laid there so still on the

Leafy ground, tiny

Twig feet pointing

Degradingly upwards.


How I could identify: an instant

orphan, shocked, and dazed.


Forget all I’ve learned!


When mother took off once more

Into the unknowns of

Her world,


I gathered him in my coat



And carried him home.


He will grow, take wing some fine day, become

The flight and fury

That never looks back to thank me ~


But that’s okay

That’s okay



As long as he has the chance someday

To kiss

Something that belongs to him:


That distant,

Elusive sky.




© Susan Joyner-Stumpf


loveless wind

maybe if I stood in the sun, I thought,

it would thaw my uncertainties,

                   my disillusion about the train tracks

of life and how, as mortals, we get derailed

or miss the depot entirely.

perhaps if I let the wind take over,

                   caress my many sorrows,

then I could possibly forgive the

the lost embrace

of humans

                   who had no desire to want me;

only to remind me that ice doesn’t just

form in the heart of winter.

          or that if it wanted to, (and

                             mostly did)

it could leave me shivering with

wounded wonder.

oh but that curious,

cruel wind has not the strength

of unrequited love

                             to knock me over.


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf


Did you die with such dignity?

A love poem on your breath

Destroying your first book

At twelve because no publisher

Was to be found

Oh those sentiments lost

Floating like feathers in the

Wind, without their wings

You wrote songs, symphonies, plays

Anything that would make

The heart smile, or break

You, who hobnobbed with

Dickens, revered by Wordsworth,

Yet critics say you were

Was not considered a Great Poet

In your day

But those wretched echoes

Long since died

After Love Among the Ruins


And the love of your life,

Semi-invalid, Elizabeth,

Did your words so wholly

intermingle, soar as they would

and could, dance all night

till that great heart could take it no more?

Oh!  Robert Browning

What do they say now

As we study you,

As we ourselves fall so short

Beneath those trusty ruins

Tripping over the drama

Of your tears, that

Victorian chivalry

Which moved to action

your pen of Gold;

We who could only

Pray to die with

Such regal dignity as tho.


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf