The Bone

Where did you find it?
In a field near my father’s house.
Did the flesh still cling to it?
It was picked clean, bleached, dry.
Were you afraid?
I picked it up.
What did you feel?
Revulsion and pride.
What will you do with it?
I’ll braid my hair with it
or hold it when I sleep.
May I touch it?
Never, you may
never touch it.


Stephen Bunch lives and writes in Lawrence, Kansas, where he received the 2008 Langston Hughes Award for Poetry from the Lawrence Arts Center and Raven Books. His poems can be found in Autumn Sky Poetry, The Externalist, The Literary Bohemian, Phantom Kangaroo, Fickle Muses, IthacaLit, and Umbrella. From 1978 to 1988, he edited and published Tellus, a little magazine that featured work by Victor Contoski, Edward Dorn, Jane Hirshfield, Donald Levering, Denise Low, Paul Metcalf, Edward Sanders, and many others. After a fifteen-year hibernation, he awoke in 2005 and resumed writing. Preparing to Leave, his first gathering of poems, was published in 2011. His collection DisquiEtudes recently appeared in Mudlark. Bunch can be found on the Map of Kansas Literature near L. Frank Baum and Gwendolyn Brooks. [He reports that property values tanked when he moved into the neighborhood.