Lisa Stice, For and After

Talking of TS Eliot

In my beginning is my end…
In my end is my beginning. – TS Eliot

an expat, a hollow man
penning his own wasteland

I liked him though

and there was young Betjeman
at his desk in grammar school

and there was Eliot teaching
young boys a dead language

and there was a woman who
was his excuse for staying

I liked him though

in Kensington or Somerset
an end, a beginning

Over the East Sea’s Winds

How can I spend these days here?
A guest enjoying your spring winds? — Qiu Jin

A fire travels across the ocean,
blazes, lights up the sky. Stars
and moon seem consumed.
Please, let it come to me, let me
gather the flames in my hands,
heat my limbs and my spirit,
your courage crackling inside.
May I not be afraid when I must
walk alone at times in darkness.
May the world rise like the sun.
I am determined to spend these
days here, enjoying spring winds.

Late Morning Walk

for Sylvia Plath

Nobody, nothing, nothing but
the smoke of burning yard debris
carried on the autumn breeze,
nobody but me with my dog—
I talk to him, knowing he fully
understands, his terrier brain
far more advanced than mine,
and I guess at his responses,
answering for him the best
I possibly can. Then quiet
comes for a while and I think
how empty the streets are,
except for the bumblebees
who clumsily wobble around
my head on their search for
October blooms; they will find
them in our chrysanthemums.

My dog pulls at his leash with
each rustling of ferns, wild
rosemary, Carolina lupine,
but somehow, I cannot stop
thinking about blackberries.

Woman Holding a Balance

After Vermeer

behind her:
a healing grace
the salvation of forgiveness
promise and sacrifice

before her:
value weighed
an equal measure
dignity and decorum

within her:
blood of generations
nurturing warmth
a round-cheeked future

How to Play Like a Four-Year-Old

be loud when you screech like a bat of darkness
and remember some animals can talk – pretend dogs,
animals who wear clothes, unusually colored horses –
but some animals can talk only in their own language –
real dogs, non-magical cats, bats of darkness (of course)

dance slightly off from the beat of the music, then
spin and spin and spin (an actual four-year-old
will always outdo you), then run as fast as you can
through kitchen and dining room, run much like
a cheetah, stopping to take deep breaths (your breaths will be real)

make up rules that change as the game takes you
and remember that games are anything that can be
played – dress up, don’t step on the short pieces
of hardwood, chase the dog – most of the time a tie
will be declared and all will celebrate (likely more dance)

Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse. She is the author of Permanent Change of Station (Middle West Press, 2018) and Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog.

Learn more about Lisa and her publications at and

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