top of page


Stephen Kampa


Less the shit-spurts or piss-floods of pure terror, crotch-cloth
darkening in brisk, eccentric, tectonically edged

blots like an animated


map that marks, in real time, the spread of an infectious
disease, and more the insistent low-grade tooth-grinding

of moderate, strangely un-
treatable anxiety,


the probative hollowed-out feeling of having found
cavities one can’t brush away: the dread we had was

omnipresent, like clothes in
civilized society.


Our vectors of concern, definite yet infinite,
radiated from our chests like steel spokes from the steel

hub of an immoveable
wheel, chaotic as the stays


and struts crisscrossing an amateur’s summer garden;
follow any vector, and you would dead-end at some

amply televisable


fear: we might nuke ourselves, Crackberries gave us cancer,
our coupes were idly pulling down the sky one stoplight

at a time. What would happen
when, as per our worst sci-fi


fantasies, we could finally implant motherboards,
wires, widgets, you name it, directly into our brains

and hear in ultraviolet?
Download a scent? Cyber-tweak


on cyber-crank? Hence, the steel vectors radiating
from our chests: we looked like voodoo dolls, like overworked

pincushions. Ice kept melting
in polar caps and whiskey

glasses both. We let all the waves—radio, micro-,
Bluetooth, WiFi—knead and numb our innards. Irony:

we could never worry long
enough in one direction


to be useful. Everything was fast, everything was
convenient, everything was done before we knew it.

We envied the butterflies:
through their bodies, the one pin.

Stephen Kampa.jpg



Stephen Kampa is the author of three collections of poetry: Articulate as Rain, Bachelor Pad and Cracks in the Invisible. His work has also appeared in Best American Poetry 2018 and Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic. He teaches at Flagler College. Currently, he is the writer in residence at the Amy Clampitt House.

bottom of page