Better a tiger than a cobra. Better three
from a dry edge, resting and cleaning
their paws. I stand against a lean-to, near
an empty highway stretched thinly into
late afternoon. Around me, stronger
than emptiness, the gifts you tried to give me
so long ago, so far from the town’s
center. The witnesses you rolled
into you. Unmarked boxes pulled
from a dirty pile. The eagerness to say I
have only cast you in a reproachful light.
This has turned beyond hallucination.
Like a sharpened claw. Like an intuition
that you are waiting for me, always,
on a rainy corner after the busses
have stopped service. Along my road,
razor wire etching its space.
From where I see this cliff, temptation
sneaks in its spacious tremble.
Stephanie Kartalopoulos completed her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Missouri, where she was 2008-2012 Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry. Her poems and translations of 20th Century Greek poet Yannis Ritsos are forthcoming and appear in a variety of journals that include [PANK], Thrush Poetry Journal, Barn Owl Review, Sou’wester, Pebble Lake Review, 32 Poems, Phoebe, and Harpur Palate. Stephanie is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry at Kansas State University.