Poetry: Jennifer Stella

Selected by Hoa Nguyen as a finalist for the 2018 Omnidawn Revealed Identity Poetry Book Prize

City Of No Lefts

after Victoria Redel, Swoon


Here: breathing

smoke somewhere 

in the day’s

second night I wake

to find us. Corded

with yellow tape

the way an x-ray 


one story 

about a girl

Here, the other

part I know: carrying

flung vessels

he roughs

exhaustion on

lips and hills.

I want none of

it. I want all

your castanets 



Out there the real

child marches

flushed. You are

station, car lot

canal and blind alley—

hip to hip we’re 

stunning. Hems

against skin

shores, houred

doorways ready if

not singing

then what weeps

for everything

not Neverland.


Even now

the fear

this has happened

before. If not paradise


then a collarbone. I am

all melting. Take that

I am afraid

of how Gaudi held

the world. Take:

I love his dark

invention of cognates

their tethered

sway and crushed

show-off blooms.


The regardless

list is


to thrive. Then you

and no absolution


like watching 

the decline

until I’m

drained despite 

continuity of language.


This world holds

its breath for the sun

to come out.

The sun comes

out, to see

if you are

there and safe

are you? Now try

and tell me who

is ever ready

to brave living

to the living   

Jennifer Stella reading: City of No Lefts

Jennifer Stella is a writer and a doctor. Also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Cameroon, she completed her MFA in poetry at Brooklyn College while in medical school in San Francisco and subsequent internal medicine residency in New York City. Her poetry and prose are published internationally. Writing has appeared in Calyx, Tupelo Quarterly, the Dusie Blog, Eleven Eleven, Der Grief, Pharos, and others. Her first chapbook, Your Lapidarium Feels Wrought, was published in 2016 (Ugly Duckling Presse) and her second chapbook, Letters We’re Allowed, was published in 2019 (above/ground press). Jennifer recently worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo as an HIV/TB physician for Doctors without Borders. She lives in San Francisco. www.jenniferstella.com