Terri Kirby Erickson

Stevie Santos

Stevie Santos wore his sister’s slingbacks
to class, her false eyelashes. Silk shirts clung,

half-buttoned, to his milk-white chest.
Kids stared and snickered, but Stevie’s eyes

faced forward, like a soldier. With bombs
of ridicule exploding so close, they might

have blown him to pieces, he marched down
the pea-green hallways of his father’s alma

mater, painted toenails glittering. His step
never faltered—as if he saw clear through

their jeering faces to a tropical rain forest,
where birds with jeweled feathers called to one

another from the emerald trees—and nothing
on the ground could even touch them.



Terri Kirby Erickson is the award-winning author of three collections of poetry, including her latest book, In the Palms of Angels (2011, Press 53), which won a 2012 Nautilus Silver Award for Poetry and was the Gold Medal Winner for Poetry in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and Telling Tales of Dusk (2009, Press 53), which reached #23 on the Poetry Foundation Contemporary Best Seller List in 2010.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the 2013 Poet’s Market, American Life in Poetry, storySouth, JAMA, Verse Daily, Eclectica, and many others.  She lives in a small town in North Carolina with her husband and all the books she can fit into that vitally important “room of her own.”  You can find more information about her work at http://terrikirbyerickson.wordpress.com or

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