Ashes to Ashes. by Ronnie K. Stephens

Grief is too often a tight rope of stoicism
and unbecoming.

For the guests she wore a black gown,
thumbed the chain around her neck like a rosary.

Mouthed the words to a song she once knew
by heart. Perched at the front of a room,
urn knocking against her ribs like a lover.

An entire life small as a fistful of dust
and just as fleeting.

She closed her eyes until the room
was midnight and fog and harvest moon.

The crag she stood upon was an empty bed
in the middle of winter. Her dress billowed
and stirred, ravens rising one after another
into the battered sky.

She is still and elegant in her anguish,
each heavy breath a blackbird

peeling itself from the seams of her resolve.

"Ashes to Ashes" is an example of a poem by Ronnie K. Stephens, a full-time English teacher. He has identical twins and a brand new baby that take up all the space in his chest. He is currently pursuing an MFA from Wilkes University. His first collection, Universe in the Key of Matryoshka, was published by Timber Mouse Publishing in 2014. His second collection will be released later this year. Folks can find him on Twitter and Instagram @ronniekstephens, and on Facebook. Book orders can be placed through, Amazon, Powell's Books or Barnes & Noble.