“Blackwater River” by Kate Stephenson


Jimmy Juliano

From the 2018 edition of Young Idea, available in late-May.

* * * *

Have you ever been angry?

Not simply mad or upset,

But angry?

Filled with a boiling rage,


An empty glass bottle in the rain.


What were you angry about?

What was it that made your blood rise to your neck,

Your pulse echo in your throat?

What caused your jaw to sew itself shut?

Your lower teeth jutted out,


An underbite,

A strange satisfaction radiating from the applied pressure.



Why did you punch the wall so viciously?

Your eyes, malevolent,

No will to do anything but scream.

Scream until your throat was raw and blistered,

And it hurt to swallow.

Scream until you felt like your eyes,

Your body,

Your breath,

Would melt into the ground,

Or burn away into ashes.

Scream until you forgot what you were screaming for.


Who set you off,

Like an oven timer?

Who was it that pulled your heart partly through your skin,

And left it there to beat,

Half exposed to the brutal cold,

Half stuck inside of your turbulent,

Storm-ridden chest?


How did you feel?

Did you feel like you were capable of anything?


Did you feel the power coursing through your veins

Like dirt,

Through a blackwater river?


Have you ever been angry?