Joshua Michael Stewart is originally from Sandusky, Ohio but has been living in
Massachusetts since 1988. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His poems have been published in Rattle,
Diner, HazMat Review, Worcester Review, and others. His first chapbook, Ordinary Mysteries, was published by White Heron
Press in 2004. Here are some samples from that chapbook:
LOOKING AT THE LINES OF A POEM SIDEWAYS
Like God you create mountains without much effort.
Tracing the arete with your godly finger
your journey through the terrain, taste
the chalk and granite dusting your teeth.
Even the bighorn you’d toss
the crust of your sandwich
is perched on that third line in the second stanza.
Then there’s fire. One can’t label himself Almighty,
unless he’s willing to burn something:
a small forest of pines,
leaving only thin, charred trunks to spear the white sky?
But of course what is a god without
So there’s the poppy field where Eve and Adam
first realized that sinning wasn’t such a
Which leads to the embrace, the interwoven bond
between joy and sorrow, something only mortals
And there you are, your complete human self,
standing alone, squinting out at sea, the black sails of Theseus
in the amber light of the desk lamp.
WHAT DOES AND DOES NOT HAPPEN
for Scott Graves
You’re thinking of the year I spent with a gun in my mouth, how the snow that winter was unmanageable.
The drifts were as high as the windows, and you kept mentioning how it was like peering out of a porthole. You wondered if
the ship next door was coincidentally passing, or if we belonged to a fleet of pathological dreamers. It occurred to you that
it could be just a house...sinking in quicksand. You felt the floor melting beneath you, the creaking of support beams, a
china plate smashing in the next room. It wasn’t until morning, the windows still in their frames, that you were willing
to accept the snow as frozen water, a nuisance, that the gun I was gnawing was a candy cane, and the bullets did little more
than turn my tongue a brighter red.
ONE RUSTY BOLT
"No human thing is of serious importance." --Plato
I'm an airline attendant for a small company that can’t
afford anything except rickety biplanes. Needless to say, my job causes very little stress which is the kind of stress I find
suitable. I ask the pilot if he has his seatbelt properly fastened, if he’s in the upright position, then toss a can
of Coke and a snack-size bag of Ruffles into his lap. I ask how long it should take. “About an hour,” he replies.
Then I say to him: “we should be arriving at our planned destination in approximately one hour.”
I spend the rest of the flight glaring over the edge of the aircraft wondering what would happen to the houses below if I
dropped pennies out of the plane. Then I start to imagine baseballs, bowling balls, Ford Explorers. People would step out
to fetch the morning paper to see a refrigerator pulverize their yuppy neighbor’s brand new Volvo. They’d look
up into the sky, using the newspaper as a visor. I’d see their resplendent smiles and their thin arms waving like the
tails of sperm cells under microscopes, and I’d know that I was contributing to something really special.
WHEN THE SURREALIST NO LONGER REMEMBERS HIS DREAMS
Summer. We were walking
a country road before dawn,
and you were dead.
I don’t remember
but there you were, dragging your feet,
your eyes like the bottoms of glass ashtrays.
said it smelled of death,
and you just groaned.
I felt like an idiot.
I never wanted this.
I never wanted it to
Do you have any idea
what a soggy corpse is like
so early in
I tried to pick up the pace,
but all you could do was slosh across the road.
Eventually we came to
and hobbled inside to get dry.
Soon the sun was up. The rain had stopped,
and the insects were getting jiggy
in the fields.
You slumped into an empty stall.
Sunlight beamed through slits in the boards
and the dust of your
with the dust of the barn, the outside world
and possibly me. Despite the decay
you looked lovely disappearing
And I told you, if I wasn’t such a fool
I’d love you right down to the bone.
It was the first thing you'd said all morning.