Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Hello and Welcome!

If you're one of the five people I imagine will visit this site at least once, I'm glad you're here!  A couple of notes:

  • Please bear with me re: any formatting issues.  It's been at least four years since I've messed around with Blogger.  I imagine that my theme and fonts will be less lame in the future.  I just want to get things up and running asap or this will be one of those passing fancies I'm too busy for mid-February.  If you see any obvious problems, let me know!
  • I imagine that I will update at least once a week, probably more to start.
  • Most of these poems were written during weekly meetings of the Schaumburg Poetry Group (hi, guys!) in response to prompts, so much of the content is purely fictional and not about YOU or HIM, per se.
  • I don't care about meter and have never cared about it, even when it was my business as an English major to care about it.
  • I have been writing creatively for about as long as I can write, yet SOMEHOW continue to languish in complete obscurity.  I am proud to say that my work has been rejected by many of the best publications in America, and I look forward to collecting new rejections from poetry magazines and websites in the future. 
  • If you would like me to link to your creative endeavor, leave me a comment!
  • Questions?  Concerns?  I can do almost nothing about the current American political situation.  I will delete spam comments with joyful abandon.  I will obsessively check for comments.  I am already filled with self-doubt.

First, Some Good News!

Hi everyone,

I just thought I'd take a moment to toot my own horn, as it were.

My poem "Home" was selected to be read at the Jersey City Writers' "Genre Night," on April 21, 2018, which kicked off the Jersey City Art Council's Poetry Festival Week. It will also soon be published on the Jersey City Writers' website.

Next, I just found out that my poem "What Gets Left Behind" will appear in a future issue of Kaleidotrope.

My poem "The Last Girl" has been published in Issue 4 of Arsenika.

You can now read my poem "Lethargy" on The Pangolin Review.

Also, my poem "Maida Vale" has been accepted by The Wells Street Journal for their April 2019 issue.

One verse of a haiku series, "The T-12 Chronicles" will be published in Issue 74 of Leading Edge Magazine as an "Honorable Mention" in their "Sci-Faiku" (sci-fi haiku) contest.

My micropoems "Tethered" and "Horsehead Nebula" have been published in Issue 2 of Black Bough Poetry. (page 37!)

I'll be sure to post links to my work as they get published!

Also, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, here I am.  I am not, in real life, a dog.  I should probably have some kind of professional author Twitter profile, but that's more work than I want to put into that site right now.

--Karen

Buy me a Ko-Fi?

Hi everyone,

I drink a LOT of tea at the Corner Bakery every week to produce these poems that you (hopefully) enjoy!  If you are interested in sponsoring my tea-drinking/poetry production, please visit my Ko-Fi site at https://ko-fi.com/karensteiger.  Please don't feel obligated to do so, even if you know me in real life.  :)

Karen

Underneath


I was driving down Route 51
when I felt a teeth-clanging jolt.
I assumed it was my car,
maybe something wrong with the transmission,
so I pulled over
but quickly felt it again,
like being struck by an invisible freight train.
Then I saw the jagged crack, lightning-shaped,
in the black asphalt,
a fracture that widened with every subsequent quake.
I thought I saw something,
so I got out of the car,
peered into the crack in the middle of the road,
broken yellow divider lines.
I looked into the crevasse,
where black smoke was pouring out,
and flames licked the surface of the road.
I noticed then that the asphalt was hot,
the soles of my shoes sticking to the melted tar.
Under my feet was a lake of fire.
They later told us it would burn for a hundred years.
But what I never told anyone else
is that when I peered into the fiery fissure,
I saw something looking back at me,
a very large, black-lidded green eye
narrowed with hate as it met my gaze.


Parent-Teacher Conference


Her eyes were wide,
black pupils fixed on me.
A little bit of frothy white spittle 
flew out of her mouth as she shouted at me.
Teeth bared, tiny red lipstick stain 
on her front tooth.
“Don’t you walk away from me!”
she commanded.
“How dare you say such a thing
to my daughter!”
This daughter’s stare
was fixed to the ground,
her shame an invisible
but magnetic spot at her feet.
“I’ll have your job!”
her mother insisted.
Other teachers, other parents,
curious, gleeful students
stopping mid-stride now,
staring, waiting
for a violent resolution.
I was fixed to the spot,
not ashamed,
not apologetic,
but frozen in the moment
like a hapless Neanderthal
caught in an avalanche.

Drowned


Too warm, too sweet, too sticky, too dark,
it rushes toward me, towering over my head.
I close my eyes and my mouth barely in time
as the black tidal wave of molasses washes over me,
knocks me to the hard ground, then abducts me
along with everything else in its path.
I struggle to keep my head above its viscous fingers,
clutching my neck now, pulling me downward,
baptizing me in a river of angry sugar.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Just Perfect


Joanie wanted to be the next big star
of home improvement TV shows.
She and her husband, Nick,
would transform old, outdated homes:
cover them in shiplap and subway tile,
tear down the barriers
between the kitchen and the living room,
rip up carpet to reveal old hardwood floors,
decorate the walls with artwork:
inspirational phrases written in a looping script
on stained wooden plaques,
family photographs given a new home
in vintage frames.
And their clients, as well as the television audience,
would gasp and cry, “It’s perfect!
Just perfect.”
Nick wasn’t nearly as ambitious as Joanie was
and not as skilled a builder as she’d like him to be,
but they could afford to hire a lot of help.
She just called that “a little TV magic.”
They were filming their pilot episode
in their hometown.
The Old Palmer House had actually been purchased,
despite the whispered rumors and campfire ghost stories.
A young couple from out of town
who had inherited a small fortune from a grandmother.
They could buy the house for a steal,
then spend three times that much gutting the home
and remodeling to their taste.
Joanie was excited to have such a large budget to work with.
“It’s perfect!” she declared. “Just perfect.”
Strange things started happening almost immediately.
If Joanie were filming in the kitchen,
there would be a loud banging sound
from the master bedroom above,
but these sounds would never be caught on camera.
“It’s probably just the house settling,” Nick reassured her.
“Or maybe even a raccoon in the attic.”
Occasionally the camera crew experienced 
strange equipment malfunctions,
but it wasn’t the newest and best equipment.
A candle spontaneously lit itself on the dining room table.
That was harder to explain.
One afternoon, Nick was tearing up the floor
in the master bedroom.
“Joanie!” he called in a panic. “Joanie!”
Joanie raced up the stairs.
Buried in the floor was a skeleton
dressed in a wedding gown,
clutching a bouquet of dried roses.
Joanie screamed, then turned to the crew.
“Turn off that camera!” she shrieked.
“Turn it off!”
But before the cameraman obeyed,
he captured the image
of the bedroom closet opening,
then something unseen grabbing Joanie’s leg,
knocking her to the floor
and dragging her screaming inside.
The door slammed shut,
and she was never seen again.
Nick abandoned the idea of a media empire.
The young couple never moved into
their dream home.
The Old Palmer House stands to this day.
Sometimes homeless people or stoners
break in, but they never stay long.
It’s said you can sometimes hear a soft voice at night,
saying, “We’ll add a new backsplash
and update the appliances.
It will be perfect.
Just perfect.”

A New Assignment


I got transferred to the Delta Six-Nine system.
Specifically, I was assigned
to the Sigma Epsilon Thirty Three moon base,
which was a bit of a letdown.
I mean, it’s a nice little base.
Well-populated, with all the amenities.
Frequent ration drop-offs.
You can get tons of exports from Jupiter Nine.
The moon itself is rich in natural resources.
The weather is pretty decent;
you only need to worry about acid showers
a few months out of the year.
But I don’t know.
It just feels like getting assigned to a giant mall.
It’s such an old base;
I can’t imagine being able to discover anything significant.
I heard it’s one big giant boys’ club at the top.
I’m probably not going to be able to advance
out of the small lab where I’m being transferred.
I guess I just hoped for something more.
I originally requested Theta One as my first choice.
I hardly told anyone because they’d tell me
I was nuts.
My stepfather would have tried to stop it, for sure.
I’ve heard they never send women there,
but no one knows why.
There’s no formal base.
We’ve sent people to explore,
but they’ve never come back,
and we’ve lost contact with them.
I know they’ve sent expeditions
just to find out what happened to the previous expeditions.
And maybe it’s a suicide mission,
but I want to know
I want to know what’s there.
I want to see things no one else has ever seen.
I want to name the animals and the flowers
and be the first to gaze at the stars in its night sky,
standing alone in a forest or a desert or tundra,
whatever they have there.
But I was never considered the best and brightest of anything,
and I guess I never will be.
So I’m going to Sigma Epsilon Thirty Three,
to my mother’s delight.
“They have the best spas in the galaxy there!” she squealed.
She promises to visit once a month.
“Sure Mom,” I said. “That would be great.”