Today I saw a dog--a boxer, I think,
wearing a hot pink tutu,
tulle swishing
as she trotted down the street alongside her
owner’s motorized cart.

sometimes delight comes easy,
around the corner like a
dog in a pink tutu.

Sometimes, though, it’s a slow climb,
slogging through,
boots sucking mud,
over rocks,
to find, suddenly,


In the climb,
and the mud,
and the rocks.

In the river’s purr
and the clear blue of sky
through bare winter branches.

when rain falls

No matter how far
I carry myself
or where I land,
I’ve no doubt that when,
deep into the dry summer,
begins to fall and
tumbles across the
you will find me on my
with a sweating jar of
sweet tea
muttering, “mm-hmm, we needed this.”

beautiful splinter

The moon was a beautiful
splinter last night, hanging
amber in the indigo sky,
while threads of milky purple clouds
drifted by like lazy hitchhikers
on a deserted highway.
Oh, I wanted a picture—or two—
but between arriving home
and chopping onions for soup,
leaving no time to get the camera,
the moon dropped behind the trees, 
then, slipped below the horizon,
out of reach, out of time.
If I’d known—
     if I’d known,
I would’ve stood
in her light a little longer,
gazed more fully, breathed more deeply,
taking in the angled crescent
nodding luminous
in the muted night. I carry
it now, a photograph in my mind,
as I do all beautiful things.

©stephanie g pepper, 2020

sister moon, 10/8/2021
photo by: stephanie pepper, 2021

make a river

How many drops make a river
where silver bellied fish flash in the sun?
How many make the puddle in the pothole
where a robin splashes in the rain?
For that matter, how many
make this mug, make this spoonful,
make a cup, make a kettle?
How many make a spring storm,
that soaks the winter weary earth?
Don’t ask about the ocean--
it’s futile to guess.
What is one more drop,
or another tear that falls?

©stephanie g pepper, 2022

the winter wren

This morning I had a long conversation with
a winter wren. I’m not sure what passed
between us, exactly, only that
something did. Something that
left me feeling


		giddy, almost… 

			and definitely delighted.

All afternoon I considered this,
and wondered why such a secretive
little bird would call me out for a chat,
which, clearly, she did, kit-kittering loudly
all around me until, at last,
I called out “hello, Little One,” and
rose to find her in the undergrowth.

She did not startle and fly away
at my approach, but studied me
quite carefully as I spoke. Neither
was she injured, as she crept around under
the rocks and hopped among the
tangled thickets, a worm dangling
from her fine, sharp beak,
chittering all the while.

And now, night has fallen fully,
and the moon peers out
behind the clouds, and I—delighted
     and grateful—am
no closer to knowing
what, exactly, passed between me and
the winter wren.

©stephanie g pepper, 2021

when I am beside the water

When I am beside the water,
I sink to the earth,
to my knees in
shell fragments
and river stones,
polished and smooth
by the endless passing of
water this way

and what troubles me dissolves
and the jagged edges of my
discontent soften

how many times will I kneel
by the water to heal?

the unseen heron cries
and reveals himself at last in the
beating of great wings

and I rise,
saved again by
the clean air
and the blesséd earth
and the sweet clear water

©stephanie pepper, 2021

angled autumn light

I am thinking of light, and how,
after summer burns itself out at last,
and its sharp, hot blaze fades from thought,
light softens, drapes its brilliance in an airy golden veil, and
slips into hidden corners.

The good Earth tilts, 
     leans into winter,
          and the long dark,
               and the deep rest;
lingering, for only a breath,
in the angled autumn light.

©stephanie pepper, 2021

Stones River, December 23

Tonight it will rain and grow colder still,
but this morning is clear and bright.
The early sun is alive, awake behind the treeline,
its beams dancing like fairies on the water,
and casting long shadows on
blue-green glass, to the glory of naked trees.
The river exhales into the chill winter air;
its breath rises in smokey ribbons
through the stillness, like faintly whispered
secrets of its own soul’s longing.

Resting against an old sweet gum,
I sit on its knotted roots, unearthed, exposed
to light by untold years of the river
flooding and flowing and falling.
My gloved fingers lace around a
stainless steel mug of tea;
my restless mind works
the endless questions, asked–never answered–
time and time again.

Out of the hush, a voice breaks the
disquiet in my spirit, and maybe I heard
what the river spoke:
Let it feed you.
Let this be only what it is: a quiet morning beside the river
two days before Christmas.

So I lean back into the rough trunk of the
time weathered tree, whisper the words of the
Irish poet across the water in thanks, and
swallow the sunshine with my tea.

©stephanie g pepper, 2021


greetings! i have to share bad news with you.
		dear user I am inside your email

approximately a few months ago...

[FRM:Pst L Patrick
MSG:Are you going through
financial stress because of this pandemic?
My Ministry is helping individuals and
(Con’t) 2 of 2
families with $20,000

Reply YES if you are
interested .please ignore if you
are not in this category
Pastor Rev. Patrick


some time ago, i purchased access to email accounts
		from hackers (simple to buy online)
...gained access to your devices. after that i have started
			tracking your internet activities

[One sip of this will trim Pounds
plus inches from first week
onwards. Recommended By
Sharktank Judges (link)]

some time ago, i purchased access to email from hackers
		(nowadays, it is quite simple to buy)

easily managed to log in to your email…

	one week later, i have already
		installed the trojan virus on
			all the devices you use
				to access email.

(it was not hard at all) all ingenious is simple. 🙂

i am invisible. likewise, i guess by now you understand why
		i have stayed undetected until
			this letter.

[ATT is giving you 200 dollars as
a thank you for your business
but you must claim it by today


while gathering information about you
i have discovered that you are a big fan of…
	...watching exciting videos...enduring pleasure…

if you have doubts, i can make a few clicks of my mouse
		and all your videos will be shared with
--colleagues, and

[WE OWE YOU $852.26. A new
ruling caused us to overcharge
you last year. Your insurance
refund is ready. Please claim it
within 48 HRS: (link)]

i also have no issue at all with making them available for
              public access.
i guess you don’t want that to happen
                       considering the specificity…
let’s settle it this way:
                       you transfer $2567 usa dollar to me
       (in bitcoin according to exchange rate)
i will delete all this...stuff right away.
after that,
			we will forget about each other
that is a fair deal
                   the price is relatively low

[AT&T Free Msg: Antonio, we
accidentally overcharged your
account last month. Kindly
your compensation here:

use a modern search engine

things you need to avoid from doing:
          *contacting services
          *telling your friends (if i discover that (as you can see
		it is not so hard, considering that i control all your systems)
			your videos will be shared with the public right away))
          *don’t try to find me--it is pointless.
          *don’t try to reinstall the os or throw your devices away

all the videos have been saved to remote servers.

[Due to the pandemic, Netflix is
giving everyone a free 1-year
subscription to help you stay at
home. Get yours here

things you don’t need to worry about:
          *that i won’t be able to receive your funds
          *i will see right away (since i continuously track all your activities (my
	         	trojan virus has got a remote control)
          *that i will share your videos (after transfer, of course)

[We Will Lock Your Device Soon.
Please clear spam messages.
Scan Now – (link)]

                     trust me, i have no point to continue creating
troubles in your life. if i wanted that
		i would do it a long time ago!

[Using your identity the court has issued a
suspension notice along with the warrant
against your name ignoring this message
will be an intentional second attempt to
avoid initial appearance…]

everything will done in a fair manner!

one more thing: don’t get caught in similar situations in the future!

my advice: keep changing all your passwords frequently.

[…calling to let you know
that your car warranty has expired press one to
connect with an agent about
extending your car’s warranty…]

©stephanie g pepper, 2021