“I Tell You I Hurt”

This is an oldie, written when I was a member of FanStory, a website where members can share and critique poems and stories and also enter contests. Peace to your ♥ !

 I Tell You I Hurt

I tell you I hurt.

You ask where does it hurt?
You ask when did this hurt begin?
You ask what caused you to hurt?

You hand me
Bandage after bandage after bandage,
So busy addressing my hurt

You never see me
Hold out my hand,
Asking only that you grasp it.

© Stephanie Malley

“The Mechanics of Poetry”

Several years ago, Popular Mechanics magazine began mysteriously appearing in our mailbox. All who know my husband and me are well aware that we’re handy-capped when it comes to anything beyond basic household projects and repairs. So who is our mysterious benefactor?

I find myself really enjoying the magazine and may subscribe on my own if whoever it is stops renewing the subscription. Despite the title, there’s a wide variety of material showcased. In the October 2019 issue: insider looks at staff members, 6 things you can do with chewing gum/gum wrappers, leaf blower reviews, and how science is helping those with blindness, along with articles on Star Trek, Bigfoot, the F-35 joint strike fighter plane, and duck fabric for work-clothes. Short pieces and lots of pictures–a winning combination.

Peace to your ♥ !

 The Mechanics of Poetry

My friend Hendricks fixes cars—tinkers
and repairs, clocks an eight-hour day,
gets paid a fair wage, watches his work
drive away.

I’m a grease monkey, too, I say. He snorts,
unable to grasp what he can’t hold
in his hand: how I can make a wrench
of my mind, tinker with thoughts, labor
at my own expense on works as insubstantial
as exhaust.

It doesn’t make sense, he says. I shrug.
How can I explain the wild joy of abandoning
manuals, waking at dawn with the scent of poetry
already strong, falling asleep half famished
and wholly consumed?

We drink beer from mugs cool and solid
in our hands, talk sports across a table
at once comfortable and vast. All the while
I’m hunting the right words, stalking
the metaphors at the edge of my vision.
He sees me writing on the napkin
but doesn’t ask; I see him watching
and don’t answer.

My friend Hendricks fixes cars: he prefers
metal to a page; I prefer the jungle to a cage.

© Stephanie Malley

Published in the Spring 2016 issue of Eye Contact.

“Ten Months After the Ball”

What do you do with Halloween pumpkins once they’ve served their purpose and are beginning to rot? At our house, we toss them over the front porch, where the remains can rest in peace hidden by the shrubbery. One summer we were surprised to see a lush vine growing, and it dawned on us: this was the fruit of our former jack-o-lanterns.

I don’t think our vine produced any pumpkins that time, but last year we harvested three pumpkins (and a number of small gourds, similarly birthed) thanks to our hands-free gardening approach, which we highly recommend. The header photo shows this year’s vine.

While not every poem can trace its roots to a specific incident, the one below was directly inspired by that initial vine. It was our own Cinderella story, the cast-off transformed into something beautiful. Peace to your ♥ !

 Ten Months After the Ball

That October
while the midnight air
danced with violins,
the castle clock
hushed its warning,
the gown of gossamer
spun itself away,
the mice ran home
to drafty attic holes,
and only the pumpkin
was left by the side
of the long drive.

This August
the midday air
shimmers with butterflies,
the wardrobe brims
with satin and lace,
the mice dine royally
on crumbs of Brie.
In the castle courtyard
a newborn cries,
and halfway down the drive,
a gardener muses over
a thick, luxuriant vine.

© Stephanie Malley
Our first baby pumpkin!


Those who are word nerds like me, or who recall their grade-school English class well, will immediately notice that I’ve misspelled alliteration. Never fear; all is well. I purposely spelled it that way for the greater good of poetry.


Pages of poems partially penned
are prone to proliferation,
producing plentiful piles of pieces of paper
and a plethora of alitteration.

© Stephanie Malley

Playing with words this way is, for better or worse, how my mind works. I recently saw the word unintentionally misspelled illiteration, and I began toying with turning that into a poem. “Sharon has the sniffles / Miles has the mumps / Daniel’s dachshund is down in the dumps….” It’s not much of a leap (for me at least!) to considering “Oblitteration” as the title for a poem about incinerating trash found on a daily walk. The English language can be frustrating–I still get mixed up over two r‘s or two f‘s in terrific–but also loads of fun.

Peace to your ♥ !