Imprisoned – Stephanie Harper

Now is not the time
for my fettered     titanium lines—

no time for me to claim
I know a thing or two about life
as if I were anyone’s keeper…

A “suicidally depressed” convict doing life for murder
petitioned my psychotherapist friend to treat him:

& so it was that with all the detached generosity
a wife & mother of three could muster     she rendered
a diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder
even as his icy eyes ignited in her a germ of lust
that razed every trace of her in a sudden flush

Now is really not the time for idle moralizing
about prisoners      or locks & keys     as if
there were any kind of justice in poetry

It’s not the time for tying up loose ends
saving pennies for rainy days      or chrysalizing
our wrinkly little walnut meats of pupate belief
in the virtue of counting the hours

Now     the dragon is awake
blinking in the daylight of withering dreams
wagging her head in a gnashing rage

About the Author: Stephanie L. Harper lives with her husband, two teen children, and dwindling geriatric menagerie in Hillsboro, OR. Once upon a time, she earned her M.A. in German literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and she has never attended an M.F.A. program. Stephanie is the author of the forthcoming chapbook, This Being Done (Finishing Line Press), and her poems have appeared in Slippery Elm, Rattle, Figroot, and others. Website:

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