What should have been but never was.jpg

October 2017

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Inked Green Guns

the child’s painting bleeds damp / a tiny animal hides
in real time: permanent moss color on skin

manic figures aiming pistols / the tiny thing runs
waits for a dual layer of protection / lays over freckles

tears recede / there never was an ocean /
vixen eyes stretched among

dead minnows / boundaries / her ribs expand /
breathe in pine / centipedes run through wind pipes /

dandelions grow feet/ a flat war covered forehead /
a foot torn / the map of the woods splayed

he meant for her to see it this way /
the needles on a tray / the malevolence/

dry lips fume into a beast’s mouth / 
he wants her to target

a promise of a bloodletting future /
the memory bursts buckshot /

once at actually leaving /
once when the pain grows faint—

the retreating finger pulls a trigger back /
the gun goes off in the third act

if she’s a good animal the gun arm tosses a minnow /
she smells a magical scent on her mouth later –

she cannot remember what one third taste is like /
she returns to the forest /  the dark wood /

the moss grows like sheets / the gun arm hides /
he never pointed his guns at her but


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens lives in Midwest and is the author of three full length poetry collections: "Your Best Asset is a White Lace Dress," (Yellow Chair Press, 2016) "The Messenger is Already Dead," (Stalking Horse Press, March 2017,) and “We’re Going to Need a Higher Fence,” tied for first place in the 2017 Lit Fest Book Competition. Recent work can be seen at or is forthcoming from Prelude, Kestrel, Yalobusha Review, decomp, and Inter/rupture. Visit: http://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com/

Emily Corwin