Sasha Steensen

Sasha Steensen is the author of The Method (Fence Books, 2008), A Magic Book (Fence Books, 2004), The Future of an Illusion (Dos Press, 2008), and correspondence (with Gordon Hadfield, Handwritten Press, 2004). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Denver Quarterly, Aufgabe, Goodfoot, Free Verse, Slope, Shearsman, Shiny, and La Petit Zine. She has published essays and reviews in journals such as Boston Review, Chain, P-queue and Interim. Steensen co-edits Bonfire Press (, and she serves as one of the poetry editors for Colorado Review.

Here’s a little story:

writer was— we were—

in a family

how its means
                        meant you’ve been there too

tanking about, running over one another as in a war, haven’t you?

we were in an energy crisis over and over again

over here—
                        how could we have known any other way when we’ve always re-solved it

like a puzzle

                        but instead of missing pieces, we have extras, chewed by the dog, strewn about

—This is the landscape of the mind, memory, the escape of land sinking in the bog behind the
                        house, between the town and what you own.

                        You must have a family story that looks looked like this, look and see.


Perhaps the biggest folly
is to admit the storybook
to look into my own story
with fantastical desire:
what do I see but melody
sprawling out before me,
swallowing everything it sees.
And inside its mouth, a full set
of two-year-old teeth.
I remember the chewing as terrific.
The same mouth told me,
          No one wants to hear
          the story of the writer
          who lived in a wood
          and died spinning,
          the mouth is stronger than the ear.

Be Long

Will you be long
among the others
with their piles of buckeyes
torment and tender,
will you footle about
or will you move the car
forward quickly,
from north to south
will you rear your head
from within,
will you hear your head say:
you belong to this family,
and you should know it.
Not just know it, understand it.
Accept it.
Bring the bucket back when you are done.
Bring the tongue into the house,
the mouth
and stop it.
Press it on the roof, if you must.
Stop it or I will
drop you off on the highway
because I can’t stand the bickering
in the back.
You live in a family,
and this is the sort of conversation you find there.
If you’d rather not, you can fend for yourself in the forest.
And so you pack your rucksack, as others have,
but really you hide behind the barn
hoping that if you be long,
how long,
they will think you’ve gone.
They will wonder if you’ll be coming back,
and they will worry about how to fill the space
you once filled, what to do with the chair at the table,
the bed in the room.
But somehow you know you don’t belong,
this is some horrible mistake.
You are not of this place and people,
but of some much larger, much kinder place
where there is an empty space,
and those most-gentle
sit around
where you are,
where you’ve gone,
and if you’ll be back before long.