J. Stephen Rhodes

May 1, 2014

Fill one of your pockets with grass.

Make a nest out of it
or let some small creature do so—
a mouse or winter wren.

In the other, place small rocks,
the kind smoothed in a creek bed.

Add damp moss.
Put it all in a plastic bag
if you wish,
but keep the top loose
enough to breathe.

Turn over more creek stones
until you catch a salamander.
Slip it into the mix.

Walk carefully.

Is this what it’s like to be God?

J. Stephen Rhodes poetry has appeared in Shenandoah, Tar River Poetry, Theodate and in a number of journals overseas. His second poetry collection, What Might Not Be, will be brought out in the spring of 2014 by Wind Publications. Before taking up writing full-time, he was the co-director of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center in Berea, Kentucky, where he helped to prepare seminarians for ministry in the Appalachian region.


What motivates him to create:
“In part, I can’t help it. I’m not content to remain silent. In part, I like playing with words. I can’t draw worth a hoot, but I seem to be able to paint word pictures and sing word songs. In part, I’m trying to connect with other people. One person saying that my poem touches them means a lot to me. And, sometimes, by writing about my own ‘soul work,’ I might even be trying communicate shalom/salaam.”