The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”


at the first fancy
faculty luncheon
a colleague of mine asks
if i’m on the same visa as the rest
of the foreign faculty

i look around the table

i nod.
i look into her
eyes, so she can’t escape

yes…of course you are…
so why korea?
she chuckles
with her head down

why not?
i was finishing
another grad degree, my mfa
i wanted to see more of the world
i wanted benefits
health insurance
and seventy percent of american classes
taught by adjuncts

i did my ph.d. at yale

the butter
the sugar, in this biscuit
makes my
makes my
stomach turn
where’s the
brown in this
feed me

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.


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