On the way back from Appalachia we
are carsick: the mountains are a mirage
and a miracle: my stomach is a
bird dog in a field of burs: your stomach
is a mason jar of moonshine: still, the
leaves changing is just a rumor where I’m
from: here the land is littered with its own
death: the cicadas seem to sing a hymn
for it: nor pain nor death can enter there:
Miss Dolly on the speaker is a pray
-er for this place: my heav’nly home is bright
and fair: you are steeped in Smoky Mountain
solitude: I feel like traveling on.
IN TENNESSEE, I CROSS A CREEK
Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise:
Yellow-spotted salamanders sleep through thirty winters. Let the cool
silvery water make me old.
Hundreds of millions of years of smooth stones and birds
still find time to dance in the distance. Let the cool
silvery water make me new.
Mountain water only ankle-deep and John the Baptist
still finds Jehovah in it. Let the cool
silvery water make me pure.
Hundreds of millions of years of life become
the creek and sweet trillium still springs from the sandbank.
Let the cool silvery water make me mud. Let it make
me its own. Let it take me to the rainbow.
Stephanie Holden (she/they) is a Halloween-loving queer living in New Orleans, Louisiana. She writes about love, trauma, gore, and the self. Her interests are fantasy books, body modification, and the South. Find her work at or forthcoming in Ghost City Press, Kissing Dynamite, The B’K, Dollar Store Mag, Voidspace, Bullshit Lit, The Madrigal, and elsewhere, or her narcissistic tweets at @smhxlden.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.