poetic alchemy & derivations


ORIGIN Old English wrītanscore, form (letters) by carving, write, of Germanic origin; related to German reissen sketch, drag.



The Fox 


Mother said think like the fox.

When you turn invisible you will hear a chime.


Crossing the river bridge

before dawn. Walking home from school

through the red light district. Running


at night through the city, alone.

Peeling tangerines at the bus stop,


you eat the citrus slivers and toss

the rind. It disintegrates beneath a spruce tree.

You buy cowboy boots for protection


from rattle snakes. Snakes can teach you

to disappear. 


You find a coyote pup’s pale ribcage

lined with frost and magenta

strips of muscle and blood.


You cover it with sand and rocks and pinon branches.

Sleep close to a juniper fire and the ghosts


of wild javelinas won’t find you.

Remember the smell of a field to hide in. Clover.

A red tail. Keep it down, and a low nose.


A man in a long black jacket chases you.

Pause broadside behind an elm tree,


then run the length of its shadow.

A low backyard fence. A thicket

of flowerpots and bicycles.


A row of city corn. Rustle in,

then inhale the song, husk and tassel.


Hold your breath. Whisper

to the heart ringing

in your ears— fox, fox, fox.


(First appeared in Water-Stone Review, later reprinted in Kinesthesia)



Leaves from Last Fall 


Mid-day triples the sun’s light.

Grey doves haunt the shade and one won’t fly.


The cooing wind has brought us again to the trees,

limbs trembling above the cold clear river.

I hear corn husks whisper in a field over the hill.

I know if the sun had feathers we’d swoon.


Love me in the piles of lavender-colored leaves from last fall.

Revel in me where veins divide like a warm fork between winter and spring.


We are damp. Crows won’t come near.

I grip a song between my teeth, let it flutter.

You receive, hold tune in the long strings of your arms.


A frightened gosling cupped calm between your wet palms.

A glint like copper off moving water.

A whole note hummed and hummed.


I’d hoped you’d never let go.


(Published in Common Ground Review Spring/Summer 2006)





(some under the name Stephanie N. Johnson) 



Kinesthesia, (poetry) New Rivers Press, October 2010



"We give you a lamination, split into layers or leaves" in Volt spring 2017. 

"Souvenir Said" in The Laurel Review  2017. 

"going away but not running away," "early nature shows," "mutual of omaha's wild kingdom," and "the thompson's gazelle" in Nightblock Mag 2017.

"Become/River" in WILDNESS 2017. 

"Become/Wave" in North American Review 2017.

"The Ground" in Earth's Daughters, Fall 2016. 

"Incubator Memory" in Medical Literary Messenger, Spring 2016. 

"Not within Walls" in ucity review, June 2016. 

"The Problem with Anatomical Thinking--" in Bellevue Literary Review winner of the 2015 Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry 

 "She Climbs into Bed with Me" published Gettysburg Review, Winter 2015.

 "Confession," "London 1345," and "Soft Animal Undersides" published in Whitestag: Beyond the TabooFall 2014.

 “While the Children Were Sleeping” in Broad River Review 2012.

 “Driving to Get There” and “At the Door” in Jet fuel Review, Fall 2011.

 “Repair for the Occult Mind” 1110no. 2, 2011.

 “Temperance” in damselfly press sixth issue.

 “Current” poem on Chickenpinata Online, Summer 2009.

 “Skijoring with Kane” poem in Dog BlessingsSeptember 2008.

 “Here and There” poem postcard and on Yes PressMay 2008.

 “$4.99” poem in Crab Creek Review, Spring/Summer 2007.

 “The Fox” poem in Water~Stone Review, October 2007.

 “Hello Earth” poem in Massachusetts Review, Fall 2007.

 “Dead Leg in Heaven” poem in Low Explosions: Writings on the Body, 2006.

 “Wind” & “Music of the Ocean” poems in A SASE Wings Anthology, 2006.

 “Leaves from Last Fall” poem in Common Ground Review, Spring/Summer 2006.

 “Wine Water” poem in BPJ, Fall 2006 and Poetry Daily September 2006.

 “The Shape of Things” poem on AGNI Online, Winter 2005.

 “People Who Say Yes” poem in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review Spring 2005.

 “Why I Write Letters to My Father” poem in The Rectangle, 2003.

 “One Story of Old Women” poem in Ice Box, Spring 2002.

 “On the Dock There Are Different Ways” poem in Prologue, Spring 2002.



"After the Road Ends" essay in WILDNESS 2017.

"Places to Play and Pray In: Sacred Texts for Earth Day" essay at NPR On Being, Spring 2016. 

"Everything Under the Sun: On Maintaining Friendships After Divorce" essay at ESME, February 2016.

"Somewhere with Cows" essay at ESME, February 2016.

"Where the Earth is Most Torn: On Being with Discomfort" at NPR On Being, Summer 2015.

“Caribou” essay in Dislocate, Fall-Winter 2005.



Bellevue Literary Review Interview, Summer 2016 

Household Words, Interview by Amy Shearn, March 2011