The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Sarah Stockton

She Turned the Cards Over and Said --


Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards (from The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot)



Barnacles: they form on the plastic barrier
reefs created by discarded beer can rings
and convenience store bags
permanently coated in nacho cheese or
leeched to the hull of a vessel that once carried
small children and grief-hollowed women
to their permanent segregation in a White
world gone mad. But I digress. Barnacles
cut bare feet releasing shark-attracted blood.
I smell loyalty, tenacity, a dangerous crossing.

Hares: such adorable, adaptable prey. Eaten in
hedgerows, Sonoran deserts and Artic snow;
we know them as slutbunnies but they love their mates.
Their fur and feet can be used
as transitional objects; tokens, spoken
incantations, ancestral guides or just another
thing to mock and collect. A rabbit in a trap
writhes like any predator, dies like any saint
but while the oracle predicts subservience
one could read it in reverse, as survival.

Fox, horse, hedgehog dog,
mole, crow, jackass or toad
they live in the stars, they are your brother
they are your long-lost lover, they are at war
with each other, or in you- animal potent energy
or transcendent spiritual synergy or maybe
they are just plain adorable, but the cards say
come close, while you still can: swallow their spines
and fur, for death is never far away.



Sarah Stockton

Stella Marina


They say when a starfish loses a limb, it grows another.
Is this true? I have lost so many
extensions of myself that will never grow back.
A star in the sea may shed on purpose
sacrifice an arm or some spiny skin, protecting
the core as a survival measure when
its fleshy parts are carried off by a small child
or gobbled by a passing shark.
But they say a sea star can continue on-
patiently regenerate organs, renew
bright color, even grow stronger than before.
I am untrained in the practical science
of restored limbs and oceanic schemes,
though well-schooled in the education of
damaged things. Maybe I should seek out
a swirling tidepool, dip my own star-shaped hand
in the kelp infused water, and wait.




SARAH STOCKTON,  MA is an interfaith spiritual director and the author of A Pen and a Path: Writing as a Spiritual Practice (Morehouse Publishing, 2005). Sarah worked in college admissions/student services at San Francisco State University, before teaching theology courses at the University of San Francisco for eleven years. She recently moved to the Pacific Northwest, where she writes poetry and curates the newsletter Stella Marina Review. Her poems have appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Earth's Daughters, Snapdragon Journal and Crab Creek Review, among others. @sarahpoetica



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