Three Poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Matilda, or Patient Zero

Icy blood navigates a blood river vein

in a hospital gown forever

states closed borders

no one knew who infected her

did she ask for it

they headlined

the mush comes back up

she cannot swallow warmth

nor ingest it,

receive it,

digest it,

process it,

heal from it

kings in white jackets

almost sewed her lips together twice

she hiccupped breath

fluttered eyelids

testers licked her cheeks

to investigate any change

reindeer brought in

to face her cold smear

to lay on her limbs

rotate her shoulders in sockets

no grooves for fingerprints, iced over

yet her platelets multiply

in the dark

under black light microscopes

she mutates, waits to spring,

to smother the sun

Breakfast and Beheadings with Z or Hybrid Blue

trounce as he talked

weather patterns while eating croissants

that slept inside his eyelids

she just thought

about armor and teal pants

the zippers and skinny of them

a team’s make believe

Gen Y stroll

it’s important to appear

casual when a demon is hunting you

how the snow didn’t

burn his wrists and neck

like it did the others

this hybrid life and blazing

blond hair creature comfort

redness rushing in all around him

of course he would burn hot and charge evil cold

one mega slice across a neck

a behind the back move

the never quite grasping

what happened revealed in his big round eyeballs

the haze of no one hearing

her rage noise exploded red and blue

she catches the head

warmth stealers howl at everything

time to bite the eager

swing into a sound proof life

record store and celebrate

say whadya got

go to the back for reprints and jazz records

before you can count beats

before you remember three sets of footsteps

and the time it takes to run

Part II of Hybrid Blue


she orders decaf

tosses a silvery laugh

at the counter

how many seven wonders

how many how young hisses

in her brain in alley ways

how many uncertain slashes

that was bystander time

all the tarot readings of a first date catastrophe

stop playing fiction

she tells herself

Blue says

two guitar notes

running opposite to one another

make music the wrong way:

disharmony, wrong but right

which note am I she wonders


a new sound rings in the new year

and just like that she earned

20,000 gold coins in her future purse

for beheading one in the stormy marketplace

with Z.

they can’t suck light under water

in tiny summer pink pools

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens lives in Midwest and is the author of four full length poetry collections: "Your Best Asset is a White Lace Dress," (Yellow Chair Press, 2016) "The Messenger is Already Dead," (Stalking Horse Press, 2017,) “We’re Going to Need a Higher Fence,” tied for first place in the 2017 Lit Fest Book Competition, and “The Vitamix and the Murder of Crows,” is recently out from Apocalypse Party. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is also the author of ten chapbooks. Recent work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Pinch, Black Lawrence Press, Quiddity, Prelude, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, decomp, and Inter/rupture.


Image by Brody Etue, found on Flickr:

#poetry #jennifermacbainstephens

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