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Stephanie Russell Poetry

Death on a mountain bend

by Stephanie Russell

I don’t believe there’s anyone up there
watching over me
and when I go out on a mountain backroad in the soft summer morning of a day like this
I could die right there in a fraction of time when the planets line up against me
when stars and the moon see fit to bother the fragile air
and I can’t stop it
that moment when I hit the tree in my flight is all that’s left in the universe
and nobody is there to say I have a plan for you and it’s good
because you know it isn’t good
there is no good or bad or evil in the end
I lie on the angel-white sheets of the gurney
ventilated and massaged in a desperate bid to retrieve the spark that fluttered upward
the song of the wind tugs at memories that vibrate on the one remaining string of the bow
the light of the sun and moon and stars bursts dangerous through the stillness of the upper air
probing the dark place where I hide from all I never knew
no fear disturbs the final exhalation
it is the end


The Royal Gala died here
Red Delicious struggled
Eureka lemon withered
figs wooden for lack of juice
and the single almond
dropped off premmie
in despair
it’s the barren earth I said
clay-hard and cracked
in summer sun
no goodness
no green thumb

my granny’s thumb was green
it was over-large
angled oddly
but for all that
it was green
that thumb tended roses
into violent crimson
and velvet white
from chocolate-cake-earth
in Shanklin garden

when we moved to London
that thumb came with us
tending another flush of roses
hydrangeas pink and blue
geraniums heavy with musk
purple lavender
that smelled like soap
and like mother’s clothes
in the wardrobe
in another world

when we travelled south
so far south
that mariners feared the edge
we found a red earth
in a land where rain
swelled rivers beyond the rim
banana persimmon and papaya
blasted out of the earth unbidden
and the arthritic angled thumb
could rest. 

Now again we try
fifty years to the day
since we landed on this shore
Adelaide Hills Facing
with its rocks and its stones
and forty degree days
we search again
for Gran’s green thumb
in our children and theirs
but they laugh without mirth
at the death
of earth


There’s a special place
where I sit each morning
while darkness shrouds the valley view
when winter makes the clocks run slow
and me
and I see the crescent moon of a new cycle
the monthly cycle that grows and wanes and grows again
like a woman’s life
a life I’ll never know
and the darned shame of it all
but it’s OK I tell me
there’s good in everything
every whim and chance that determines how we go
an end in every new beginning
in the poems people tell to calm their fears as they wait
as I wait with a little patience
wandering what the hell is going on
and how come I’m cast adrift
between the moon and the dark valley view?

While no one is looking

What do I do when no one’s there to see
it makes me blush to say it
I talk to things and people animals and plants
complain and grumble and make jokes no one laughs at
except me
I sing and mutter through the silly things I do
explore places just because I can
challenge myself to go just that bit too hard
and in the moving movie scene
I tear up like a girl
and don’t dare wipe my eyes for fear someone sees
when it’s only me to see and blush
I eat one too many chocolates
burp when I eat or drink too much too fast
when bubbles get up my nose or winter cold
I sneeze and sneeze and wrap myself in blankets to get me through it
and I waste too many crossword minutes
while scoffing muesli down at dawn
and read just another page before I go about the day
and think of far too many other things to do
before I get to write the book that waits so patient
in the corner of my mind
I think I’m bad
a wanton woman
no good at all
and blush at the thought


Stephanie Russell started writing poetry when she transitioned to female. This was after having written short stories, fiction and non-fiction, for many years. Now she tends to write poetry more and more. As for publishing her works, she has had a few pieces published, but is only now making a serious effort to get her work into print.

Stephanie comes from a diverse background, ranging from careers in physics and astronomy, to researching indigenous resilience to climate change, modelling honey-bee lifecycles, and counselling and psychotherapy. These aspects of her life experience, and her passion for sports and travel, lend some peculiar viewpoints to her writing.

The Writing Disorder is a quarterly literary journal. We publish exceptional new works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. We also feature interviews with writers and artists, as well as reviews.


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