in pieces, a puzzle by Annie Stenzel


the light her spirit cast was never
bright enough for even one
to read by, let alone two

in the gathering gloom, peace, uneasy

unfolding her face into smiles
again and again from its package
of wrinkles: one’s flesh is doomed

to forget it was ever smooth

how to contain so much mystery?
time is the shield
so that our worlds

are safe from implosion

if only it were merely
a matter of money spate
of calamities; paroxysms of insufficiency

the truth dulls, flickers

everyone’s life is in pieces
waiting in the shadow
of the Fates, especially Atropos

who carries the scissors



Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts and a couple of other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection, The First Home Air After Absence, was published late last year by Big Table. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in a wide range of print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Rat’s Ass Review to Whale Road with stops at Catamaran Literary Reader, Eclectica, Gargoyle, Kestrel, Quiddity, Riddled with arrows, and The Lake, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit


Painting, Átropos o Las Parcas, by Francisco Goya.

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