A cawing band of crows calls me
through the open window.
I strain to see them
through the trees,
searching between the limbs
for their sturdy black bodies
against the blue sky,

weightless in flight.

I envy them their wings,
long for my own to lift my
weighted, earthbound
body to the heavens.

The rough calls fade to nothing.

I raise my hand to my chest,
press that hollow
below the collarbone
just above my wild heart–
where she lives,
tattooed in ceaseless flight;
fingers trace the delicate
wingtips and tailfeathers
whipped out in black ink
under my skin,
and know I, too, am

weightless in flight,

arms turned wings
stretched out against
the blue sky
in my own soul.

©stephanie pepper, 2020

restoration project

What you are is
what you become by
peeling off the skin blistered
from standing too long in
someone else’s sun.
It’s turpentine dissolving,
a putty knife scraping
the paint you didn’t choose.
The wrong shades of the
wrong colors, too thick on
the skin. And it’s a cocooning,
a shedding, a dropping away–
as such metamorphoses
are; a leaving behind
of all that didn’t fit; a
walking out into the night.
Now take up the brush, and
choose your own palette,
then color yourself in the
blues and the grays—the
hues of your soul, with
moonlight in your eyes, the
gloaming on your cheeks, and
stars aligned down your back.
Go—fly away with
fresh painted wings,
your self at last
your own.

©stephanie pepper, 2020


This morning as I sit in my
chair on the porch, my tea
steaming and the
grass wet with dew, the
green garbage truck rumbles onto
the street, brakes screeching in protest.
Its claw-arm stretches from
the side of its great underbelly,
reaching and lifting each gray
container, up and over; emptying.
It makes its way around the circle
of the court, upsetting the calm and
scattering the house finches and robins
convened in the street at the edge
of my yard, raising a flutter of complaint.
It lumbers away, completing its work–
under two minutes, I’m sure–then turns
the corner and is gone, though I hear
faintly its lurching as it works
the next street over.

It’s necessary, I know, this convenience
of suburbia; and the finches soon return
to the feeders I’ve filled with safflower
and sunflower seeds, while chirping at me
their sharp annoyance, with which
I heartily agree.

©stephanie pepper, 2020

hush, child

Hush, child, be still.
This striving is not yours.

You run around in circles
like a bloodhound on the trail,
your nose pressed in the mud,
but you don’t even know
what it is you’re searching for.

Driven along by a
primal instinct, an animal
hunting day and night, but
for what? Some image in your
head of who you think I am?

Rest, child, be still.
This striving is not yours.

Lie down on the mossy
bed at the river’s edge
and sleep, and I will lie beside you,
and sing your tender song,
and stroke your forehead softly as you dream.

And when the time has come, when your
spirit rests at last, I will rouse you from your
slumber with a gentle nudge,
and lift you by the hand, and we’ll
walk along the water, together then as one.

Quiet, child, be still.
This striving is not yours.

© stephanie pepper, 2020


to plunge

your hands into the
cold river water spilling
over rocks covered in moss
so thick, so green, so soft–
velvet under your fingers

to squint

your eyes in the
light where the sun plays on the
rapids so bright, so brilliant–
a thousand diamonds
dancing on the water

to touch

your tongue to the
bead of honeysuckle
nectar so fresh, so pure–
rainwater from the roots
sweetened with the summer sun

to turn

your ear to the open
window as the robin’s
song drifts through the yard
so nimble, so delicate–
a gold filigree suspended on the dawn

to breathe

deep and fill your
lungs with the scent of
rain and wet earth
so clean, so rich, so musky–
the very mud your body was born of


to know

how to be alive.

©stephanie pepper, 2020

poetry ghost

Green corduroy jacket
on a dark morning,
a girl embraced eternity.
“Peace, you’re not my prisoner,”
she said,
“and I am not yours.”
So sail soft, slow, baby,
on the porcelain ocean.
She’s a starless poetry ghost.

©stephanie g. pepper, 2020

(Another in the poetry challenge series from a couple of weeks ago that I have edited just a bit. This poem started as a Magnetic Poetry poem. I’ve edited slightly, but only added words from the original word choice selection I was given, with the exception of the word “jacket” and a few articles.)


Today’s #AparTogether poetry challenge prompt was to write an acrostic poem. This one fell into my consciousness as I sat on the porch this morning. It seems to be reflective of my mood in these days of social distancing and isolation.

Let the birdsong heal your heart
in the moments of your grief, as
silence echoes loss, let
the river whisper peace, and
enter your broken sorrow–
narcotics for your soul.


©stephanie pepper, 2020

book spine poetry

To help make social distancing and quarantine feel a little less isolating during this COVID-19 mess, my friend Lynn has been coming up with weekly #AparTogether challenges. This week, in honor of National Poetry Month, each challenge is poetic! Today’s challenge was to “write” a book spine poem. Choose a few books from your shelf, arrange the titles and voila–instant poem! I was so happy with mine that I decided to share it here.


And because it may be difficult to read the titles on the photo, here is “my” poem.

On the road
this day,
their eyes were watching God.
voices in the air,
the bell and the blackbird,
all the pretty horses.
Imagination in place
a wrinkle in time.
Sorry for your troubles.