“Beach Chairs” and “Box Elder Spring” by T. Stephens

In Parentheses Literary Magazine / Cover Art / Spring 2021 / Volume 6 / Issue 4 / Coco Spencer

Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California. An alumni of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recent credits include: 2River, Sheila-Na-Gig, Hole in the Head Review, Griffel, Gyroscope Review and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Please visit him at: travisstephenswrites.com

Cover image: Spring 2021 Issue of In Parentheses.

Beach Chairs

Hunkered under this sky
this safety blanket
plastic chairs face the sea.
Plastic umbrellas raise plastic arms
& let us shelter within.
A clutch
a throttle
the chairs, if let loose
would sail the seas
as far as Santa Monica
or San Diego, wearing
foolish headdresses of kelp
& gull spit, whole cities
of barnacles & tiny crabs
which climb into the seats,
the chairs poke sharp beaks
into the tame sand &
let my fat ass
cover the best of intentions,
for another beer
a warm sandwich
salty chips to share
with the dogs panting panting
& with the restless clean-limbed
teens who pretend they don’t know
how terrific they look.
Mothers look on &
fathers look out
toward distant smudges
that might be clouds
might be ships passing,
carrying plastic chairs by the ton,
bales of t-shirts to barely
cover bikinis, much to the joy
of drunks & chain smoking men,
the same men who sit on the
fantail of the ship to spit &
toss garbage at the sea.
No one has seen a whale in months.
Dolphins ride motocycles,
cut off each other, swearing
lightly as the ship plods on
dumb dumb dumb
until they throttle up &
are gone.
When a slow airplane
drones by, its banner advertising
some goddamn thing
nobody needs, the sunbathers
roll over
look past their toes
to white caps on the blue.
The sound of cars
bumper to bumper
competes with the waves,
both implacable &
hungry & bored.
A bold sun noses
us in places
private & public.
I’ll have another.

Box Elder Spring
–for Bill Holm

Box elder bug walks the window box
planter full of last year
eyes the crack in the frame
of the old storm set. There
are box elder bug cousins having
a party in the basement, a riot
of feeding, red and black
There are nephews who will
emerge in spring, get eyed by junco
who will beak one. Not twice.

Ornate canopies of trees defy
the birds seeking passage,
islands that flicker,
roofs of branch
a heaving ocean of leaves.
Below, a flicker ridicules a squirrel
who eyes and heckles
the land bound poet
barely quick enough to gain
sunlight, footsteps shakes the earth.
It’s a long walk.
it’s April, barely, the snow
still peeks from the horizon
eyeing the foolish cattail buds
the way a horse sniffs at old hay.
Waiting for something

From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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