Stephen Anderson

The Swerve


Things just work out that way sometimes.


Jarring and jagged cut-you-up things

     that spring up from the least expected places:


The sharp-toothed jackal that comes in the shadows

     of the day to take away someone you love,


the disappointment by a friend who you had

     so cherished before, 


the dream shattered by a slight-minded person

     in power unmoved by your light-source,


and then, and then the action taken by your

     own hand that is self-or-other-betraying


in its blanket myopia, its perception far afield

     from the bullseye of truth in the matter at hand.


All of this is ski-jawed freewill in the house of



where we must do the high wire balancing act

     above the bigtop circus and, lest we forget,


there is a world watching our every bob and weave,

     a world that expects us to put on a good show


in spite of the shaky, thin wire we all must tread.

Stephen Anderson is a Milwaukee poet whose work has appeared in Southwest Review, Verse Wisconsin, Foundling Review, Twist In Time, Tipton Poetry Journal, New Purlieu Review, Free Verse as well as in numerous other print and online journals. Many of his poems have been featured on the Milwaukee NPR affiliate WUWM Lake Effect Program. Anderson is the author of  Montezuma Resurrected and Other Poems, The Silent Tango of Dreams, Navigating in the Sun, as well as two full length collections, In the Garden of Angels and Demons and The Dream Angel Plays The Cello. In the summer of 2013, six of his poems formed the text for a chamber music song cycle entitled The Privileged Secrets of the Arch performed by some musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and an opera singer. Anderson’s work is being archived in the Stephen Anderson Collection in the Special Collections section of the Raynor Libraries at Marquette University.