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


dancing tires my night
catching a cab, feet away
a stranger’s catching one too
he jumps into mine

we eat and drink and flirt in
a restaurant with
red lanterns until
outside dawn breaks and

say that again –
you are married? do you cheat?
i’m a man, he declares

but i’m worried about my wife
every night has to end you
aren’t coming inside
she withholds
stay in the cab
a year in counting!
so you worry about her?
and continue
to do what causes
the withholding?

stay in the cab
there is nothing
in me
your wife
does not have

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.


Leave a Reply