Local Author: Jeanine Stevens | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local Author: Jeanine Stevens

Jeanine Stevens chapbooks include: Boundary Waters (Indian Heritage Council, 2005), The Keeping Room (Rattlesnake Press, 2006), The Meaning of Monoliths (Poet’s Corner Press, 2007), Eclipse (Rattlesnake Press 2008), and Caught in Clouds (Forthcoming, Finishing Line Press). She has two Pushcart Nominations and earned first place awards in poetry from the Stockton Arts Commission, The Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference, and the 2009 Ekphrasis Prize, among others. Jeanine has graduate degrees in Anthropology and Education and is taking coursework in the U.C. Davis Creative Writing Program.

“Whither goes thou America

in thy shiny car (at) night,”

Kerouac wrote. Tucked together,

sedans and rusty panel trucks


-doors gape, fenders sprout

stiff prairie grass,

sagging tires-the first to rot.

Newer models sit high on the horizon,

lift bright hoods: slick red, yellow,

and aqua enamel sparkling in the sunlight.

Perhaps they will be rescued

for parts?

But tonight, no one walks here.

It seems a vast sacrifice at the base

of these ancient Rockies-made purple

only by their distance.

Discarded, they silently decompose,

moonlight leveling shape and shadow.

Previously published in Westwind

We must make more of Autumn

than covered bridges and red aspens.

I want to follow where the Truckee

runs down to the Carson Valley Plain,

see night-white ruffles reflect ethereal birds

skipping in warm, sweet buck brush,

flitting ripples, carrying wings,

flowing under Reno-neon and glitter,

and the California Zephyr’s silvery tracks.

Water breaks, broken water…. leeching

fenced farms, but still determined,

overflowing, exposing brittle bison bones.

Emerging from purple ceanothus thickets

wild rabbits blanket my headlights

fiery orange-eye-shine!

Then, the river fans out quiet,

lapping tufa formations at Pyramid Lake,

old shards polished bright-

ghost dancers drinking deep.

Previously published in-South Dakota Review

I buy her at a roadside cafe

in Bakersfield-folded hands

curve upward, arms drop

white clouds-a waterfall drips

golden leaves down her garment.

Warm, and smelling of cedar,

she is blue as veins in a dusty pink

Rose of Sharon. She is blue

because Russia is cold,

and that’s where she comes from

holding a dime size charm-

a porcelain saint in a brown robe.

I don’t know her faith, maybe

an icon or a holiday ornament?

I fasten her rusty hook to my saddle,

ride out and show her Nevada,

where blue is wide, white

is high, hills run yellow,

and a brown crust covers the earth.

Previously published in Camas

Each winter, snowplows

spray salt showers

on tiny stars, pointed

as glacial chips-

tan colored nosegays

hug asphalt, poke

cracks in the interstate.

Some would call them weeds.

We picked armfuls.

A mix of black walnut

and nutmeg, they stood

in a pottery vase for years,

until only the scent

of dust remained. Just now,

I saw them from the

California Zephyr-tight tufts

sticking sideways in creosote

soaked ties, surviving

wind, exhaust

and early autumn heat

-there then,

here now, outlasting us.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User