Three Poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

The first of these three poems by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens dances down the aisle of a paint store as colors come alive at night, while the following two explore feminism, conflict, and sexuality in two “found” Anne Rice poems from Rice’s Exit to Eden…

by: Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Re-opening the Paint Store

A tiger’s eye stared me out of gold once.
It said give up what you love.

I dug my way back through beetles, water, and oil.
So many colors to get me wet every day I could not label emotions under easels.

Am I Sienna Italy? Am I Frosted? Knight time brusque?
Yellow wasps break in through a crack in the atmosphere

swarm under tiny, wood bones, heave our auburn hair into a cluster:
we shelter in the stock room.

Live nudes dance through the aisles.
Regrow their arms under matte sky blue indoors.

These wolves do not understand humanity — only exposed neck lines.
A twentieth century shade buries a friend

green bottle flies bite everyone at the sale
our same bleach nightmare— in tourniquet shadow

a poison that erases and smears all primary colors,
all the right answers,

finishes it’s stain timed test.


Refuse the Knock Below the Stairs

the lower half
just an anatomy ritual between bodies

I’m afraid

of etching your
mouth into a mop

give me a bare taste
too good for Vermouth

and the pearl buttons
bleed sarcastic,

accept my

arms and throat
draw a vulnerable

little grimace
push a crush into her

disgusted by a fair trial
gets you into trouble

ride this jungle
beast and beg

This is a found poem. Text from Rice, Anne. Exit to Eden. New York: Harper Collins, 1985. Print. Pages 115-117.



a secret

her small mouth

convicts ditch diggers

now he’s going to

caution you again

glare at your


your breasts and skirt

rubbing the place

turn his bite into a wink

into more trouble than paperwork

tethered to this cheek dance

paler than furious hands

he’s tormented to hear her


climbing out of her place

This is a found poem. Text from Rice, Anne. Exit to Eden. New York: Harper Collins, 1985. Print. Pages 116.


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she likes to rock climb. She is the author of four full length poetry collections and twelve chapbooks. Her chapbook “Teeth Have a Hardness Scale of 5,” is forthcoming from Sputnik and Fizzle Press. Recent work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Pinch, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, Zone 3, and Grist. She also hosts a monthly indie reading series sponsored by the non-profit organization Iowa City Poetry called Today You Are Perfect. Find her online at

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