What-or-Who? by Carol A. Stephen (MY FRONT DOOR Series)

My poem What-or-Who? in the Silver Birch Press series My Front Door, appears today on their site. Thank you, Silver Birch Press!

Silver Birch Press

by Carol A. Stephen

A simple knock at the front door
in a tempo of anybody-home?
segues to an urgency of fist
against steel, a tremor of glass,
an I-know-you’re-in-there! pounding.

I stop halfway down the stairs, curiosity
elbowed away by fear of what-I’ll-find
when I turn the handle, release the lock—
I tiptoe over tiles, slide slowly into
the windowed room beside the door,
turn louvered blinds to crack daylight:
what-or-who is hammering outside?

I see only a cast shadow, someone standing
too close to the door to be seen.
A long-dead-grandmother voice whispers
Never open the door to strangers.

 I tremble behind concealing blinds
in a sweat of what-comes-next
remembering the family rules:

Don’t ever trust other women.
Pretend that you’re not home, and—sssshhh!
Never tell your mother grandma’s secrets.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What-or-Who? was inspired by a childhood memory of my grandmother, who…

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Poem for Lesley


A friend who has been ill posted a wonderfully inspiring piece on her blog awhile ago. She’s always such a cheerful, positive person, someone I admire very much, and have for a long time.  In re-reading my comments to her about how her thoughts had given me a more positive outlook on life, I realized there was a poem. So, here, for Lesley:


Poem for Lesley


Just last week I had turned silent—

a year of illness— yet this morning

you still arrive in my inbox,

focused always on the positive

swing, the uplift, the sweetness

that there is, rather than what might have been.

You are still your upbeat self in the face of illness.


I wish I had had your insight

to realize all winter that all was not lost,

that I was not just waiting

for the next shoe, that I was, in my own way

grieving the narrowing scope of my own life.


But, as you say, I am alive.

And today I find again appreciation

for your wise words.


~ Carol A. Stephen
March 29, 2020


You can see Lesley’s post here:


Poetry Challenge Coming Up in April 2020

Olivetti Lettera 22

It’s been almost a year since my last post, a year of challenges and health issues. My role with CAA-NCR, providing monthly lists of writing opportunities came to an end June 2019.  As I have been improving health-wise, I’ve also been pondering what to do about Quillfyre.  I do have a new book, which hasn’t been added yet, Winning the Lottery, about surviving Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff.) and life with an ostomy.  Ok, so that wasn’t fun.

What is fun is writing poetry. And April is coming, National/Global Poetry Month. I plan to take part in one or perhaps more, of the 30-day challenges, and will be posting poems here.  I hope you will join me, either by reading my attempts at the challenges, or by writing your own. Even better, do both!

And check out (how about signing up?) at the NaPoWriMo site here: http://www.napowrimo.net/


NaPoWriMo 2018 Two Sylvias Press april 20, 2018

Ah, to write about a secret and share it. Well, I can’t think of anything I am keeping secret that I can tell about, except perhaps one that I don’t know the answer to:


Family Secret

It isn’t my secret. It might be
my father’s. Perhaps his mother knew.
Born to one surname, married under another.
What happened in the years between?

Did it change when he was small?
Perhaps he never knew at all?
Am I a Swaebe? Or am I a Pfahl?

Did she change it or did he?
Why all the mystery?

All that so many years ago.
I suppose now I’ll never know.

Carol A. Stephen (nee Swaebe)
April 20, 2018

Swaebe is pronounced with a long a, silent e’s.  Swayb.

Pfahl, as far as I know, has a silent P and h  FAWL