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Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas lives in the Sierra Foothills (CA) and is currently enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Writing program. She is an eleven-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a seven-time Best of the Net nominee. In 2012 she won the Red Ochre Chapbook Contest, with her manuscript, Before I Go to Sleep. In 2018 her book In the Making of Goodbyes was nominated for The CLMP Firecracker Award in Poetry, and her poem “A Mall in California” took 2nd place for the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize. In 2019 her chapbook An Ode to Hope in the Midst of Pandemonium was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Her latest collection of poems Alice in Ruby Slippers, a book of form, was just released from Aldrich Press and has been selected in Sundress Publication’s, The Wardrobes Best Dressed. Her work can be found online and in print and has been recently featured in Mezzo Cammin and Verse Daily. She has served as the Editor-in-Chief for the Orchards Poetry Journal and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Tule Review and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Sacramento Poetry Center. Her work has been included in the Saratoga Authors Hall of Fame and according to family lore she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson. Her website is

A Chance of Memories

Have you ever slept naked in the moonlight
or opened your legs to a stranger under
the shadow of trees or shut your body
one thigh over the other when a lover
tried to adore you, or slept under an arbor
with ants crawling over your stomach
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in your hand,
or threatened to break the mirror holding
an imperfect reflection having assumed
you were more beautiful than that, or peed
on yourself in the middle of a movie that was
too good to wait for intermission—
or almost drown while surfing in the ocean
the memory of breakers still thrashing
you at night, or picked the scab on your knee
deliberately to watch the fresh blood drip
down your shin bone all the way to the curve
of your ankle and had the sweetest memory
of your mother being there to bandage you
kiss your cheek and say everything will be ok?

Where from Above

To the child who was almost born, but for the day’s
early hike to the top of the summit— where from above
everything looked so precious the sky crowded
with clouds ethereal as silhouettes of long-dead

relatives— where from above the children below
didn’t know anything more than how to tie their shoes
or make angels in sand or smell the windy sea’s
concoction of salty perfume mixed with eucalyptus trees—

where from above the birds waited for small crumbs
to tumble from little hands unwrapping a picnic’s delight,
everything sealed in plastic and closed so tight
countering worry of spoiled food or anything

contaminating the day’s hunger— where from above
people strolled along the graveled road, looking down
at the pier, a throng of rainbowed umbrellas freckled
against the ripple of shore, buckets and shovels half-sunk

in seaweed and shells, a horde of bees hovering
together with the bitter scent of sagebrush in the air
where from above an emblem of silver draped
jagged across the coast in-between gatherings

of people laughing and talking about their plans
for next year’s vacation at some destination
impervious to peril— where from above it appeared
that all was copesetic and ongoing light, but for

the stairs that were too many for a mother’s body
and an invisible life— where from above, the tiniest
hint of red began to seep from her womb onto
the bottommost plank of the redwood step of

the downward climb just as it was time to go home.

Ghost’s Lament

For the lost who cannot grasp beyond what they’ve
already seen—their mouths exhausted from the taste

of fallen flowers, their tongues swollen with sweetness
from fruit bursting through blossom, their breath lifted

from deflated lungs, their whole selves weary
by the journey to those who’ve already found

their way, one life in exchange for the transparency
of knowing—this is how it will end; nobody escapes

the silence. We are all witnesses to death in one
form or another. There are days I open my hands

to feel the presence of Heaven the way a child touches
her mother’s face. The secret of knowing is embracing

the unexplainable. One raindrop is a river, two trees
a forest, a watch of nightingales is both song

and sky. Listen—the truth is constantly changing,
and what’s real is forever confused by daylight.

In your eyes, I see a thousand butterflies captured
and swirling through glass—every candle is a farewell

to the dark. Don’t be afraid; I’ve died a few times already,
and still, I return as someone unknown to the dead,

a star scattered by the force of its own gravity, haloed
in darkness, a new life before it is yet again born.