Jen Stein is a writer, advocate, mother and finder of lost things in Fairfax, Virginia. Her experience as an advocate, with PTSD and fibromyalgia, and with the continuing process of healing and reinvention informs much of her writing. She studied Creative Writing at George Mason University, and is assistant editor for Rogue Agent Journal. Her work has recently appeared in Deaf Poets Society, Cider Press Review, Menacing Hedge, Luna Luna Magazine, and Nonbinary Review, and is featured in a micro-collection in Wood Becomes Bone, a series by ELJ Publications, 2015.

Also by Jen Stein: Three Poems Three Poems Two Poems

Jen Stein

It was library quiet

It was library quiet — where the librarians all had crickets for mouths the crickets were dead gooseberries my breathing our breathing a book where the cover was a mirror two books with beaded fingers three books with mouths agape four books with rooms where their pages should be in the pages, vines — in the vines hands though the vines were hands themselves not cradling hands hands that pull you up the staircase by your hair vines that puppet you into contorted shapes they put your pelvis above your clavicle they make your back break into carnival glass you are not cotton candy and these are not your shelves fifth books had words the constitution only written in the language of oppression where there is a yes but the yes is not for you the yes is not for the vine people the yes is for the growers of vine the gardeners of the damned the prisoners of the disciple the people whose ankles are bound though the vines might be soft they might feel like buttersilk they might spin around your waist as though you were dancing only you're not dancing you've never been dancing beneath your feet the words: promise / obey / promise / obey the sixth book has a child's face the child's face is sewn shut eyes sewn shut lips sewn open the child can't even elect to stop screaming but the voice — the voice where did the voice come from the voice is a thousand edged sword the blade is a blade not of you but of mince minced word minced librarian hair why is there hair why here it's not hair it's soft black vines with their whispers come come come why then did you put me in this book these vines they encircle my spine we are all marionettes here.

I've been working on a series of poems and related art pieces that deal with the hallucinations I have upon falling asleep. They're called hypnogogic hallucinations, and I can be trapped in this half-dream state for what feels like an eternity. By giving these hallucinations the kind of mindfulness I give other subjects, I am able to make them less frightening, and to help others see what it's like to be in this state. I also can sometimes tap into what's causing the hallucinations, which is really useful/interesting, too.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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