Ethan Stebbins

Two poems from Ethan Stebbins’ Selected Correspondence

followed by a note on the author


If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
– Old Saying

Welp, that’s the last time I use a foamflower
to express an abstract idea. One way
or another I’d need an opinion soon
one way or the other re: the opinions.
What would it take to do the one thing the one way
vs. the other the other? One thing was clear:
both candidates lacked the decorum
observed by fruit bats and deep-sea communities
of unicellular organisms. What brand of fog
did their mothers feed them? Who was I
to never stand beneath the vaults
of a significant pavilion and make
audacious statements, credible or otherwise?
I felt finally, funnily, like furniture.
From my neutral roost I absorbed and stored
for future use the photoelectric luster
emitted from many a buffed pink brow.
I should be good. My name is meleagris gallopavo,
and I’ll be your host for the remainder
of the nebulosity sequence. I seek pleasure
and consensus. To bestir a simmering sauce
with a smooth wood spoon is just delightful,
everyone knows. Blessed is the imperative council
of everyday product precautions.
Instruction manuals have a simple, no-nonsense
agenda. To form the word “Pennsylvania”
the mouth must carry out a series
of interconnected, not unsexy gestures.
What a strange time to be thinking about sex!




The more you play with it…
A brick guy once told me that.
Talking about the mortar.
Wry, irritable,
laconic as a rock,
the chore of instruction
offended his humility.
Is that true?
Offended? Chore?
It feels important
this is something
I not fuck up.
How good he was
at what he did.
How it pained him
to see me struggle.
I didn’t understand the mud.
The more I labored
the less it stuck.


Ethan Stebbins went to Colorado College and NYU and read a lot. His manuscript Dear God was selected by Kim Addonizio for the 2020 Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America. His poems have appeared in this and that and that other journal.