Sonny’s Bagels

The jar says tips for girls
the girls are old,
round & Russian
thick sexy accents
Borscht with Sour Cream.

Poured into fitted jeans
gems mounted on rear pockets,
hunched over worn countertops
they sweep butter across

bread, fling beads of
sweat with dingy sleeves.
August in Jersey,
both ovens blasting.

Blushing, I drop a dollar,
she grants me a nod
as her colleague hands me a present,
wrapped in parchment.

(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.

Published in Chaleur


He is eleven, nearly a man
when the belt’s buckle catches
under his skin, a wriggling fish.

As usual he
grips the kitchen sink
stares at the faucet drip
as she whips.

He never cries, but this time
bloody puddles stain
his white socks, the canvas
of his Converse,
gore trickles down his leg.

She places it
on the counter,
bits of her boy’s ass impaled
on sharp metal prong.

She tidies right up,
sweeps a dish towel across the wound
applies pressure and whispers,

published in Dream Noir


April sings warm through the
soft afternoon, pink air on my lips
that tune in my ear, you on my mind
A brook trickles over jagged rocks, I cross
crossing, balancing on sharp slippery stones.
happily stretching my foot to shore.

Now, I sit on a stone wall, sad
like Humpty Dumpty
walk miles rocky over wooded path of mud
skeletal remains of leaves left dead
to stamp, tromp, tramp on
soil’s brown hybridized with a tree’s innards,


(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.

Published in Vita Brevis



Her probe strokes my breasts.
Young woman, white coat,
short blond hair like Sandy Duncan, studies a screen.
Shivering I squirm, brumal metal bed
as her wand shifts left, deep within my pit. Her
countenance revealing a flash of pity as
she shoves hair behind her ear, rubs
my shoulder, orders me to contort my arm
high above my head, gel
warms my chest, like Bubby’s Camphor oil,
more computer clicks,
the doctor has arrived.

Mass, tumor, growth,
small, stage, spread
Arrows, I cannot avoid, zinging
just like they did at my children’s father,
just sixteen months ago,
he is dead.

Delivered into a small room, pink robed,
I sit alone
chair in a corner, little Jack Horner,
poster of a smiling woman tacked to
a beige wall,
I wait,
fiddle with bracelets, twirl the curls
of my hair, blow my nose,
the clock pounds.

A nurse struts in, takes
my temperature, checks my
blood pressure, tells me
I have Cancer…
a seed,
she smiles.

So I trade my
old tits in-
bruised avocados for
sweet plums.

(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.

Published in VITA BREVIS


We always take the furthest spot, eager to walk
the flat expanse of Sloan Kettering’s parking lot.
On occasion he smiles in these first days
swollen with hope,
late June sunshine on his shoulders,
the Dogwood just in bloom
browning white petals kiss pavement.

Hot, he waves a limp wrist
motioning me to park nearer.
The tree is laden with green leaves now,
people walk, wipe sweat from eyes.
His clammy hand clenches the bag he still carries
relentless Jersey humidity further stifles his breath .

It spread
hip, kidney, bone.
The cane hobbles him from car to front door
where a lobby is filled with mums and pumpkins.
His wool cap fits loosely now, his face still beautiful-
chiseled, sunken. His sweater
slips off his back, a skinny boy
in daddy’s clothes.

The wheels on his chair thin, snow deep.
His final infusion –
a mere crucifixion, we
are met by his
Simon of Cyrene, sipping
coffee, laughing with security as
I recline the seat and
writhe him out of our car
like burnt bread, fallen too deep
into the toaster.

(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.

Published in Vita Brevis and Blue Lake Review

Short-Listed Fish Poetry Prize

Last First Night

I pose we smoke
(the pleasure we can
still partake in)
7 becomes 8
8 becomes 9
and you are still
on the other side
of the locked door,
ursus in hibernation.

So I mark time
mull red wine
with cardamom
and lemon peel
pour the spirit
into porcelain
teacups and pass
to my teenage children
late popsicles
on a summer night.

At 11:55 you appear
your once strong body
fading with the year
you hobble a few steps
in striped pajamas
that Jew from Treblinka
watching Anderson Cooper.

I graze your shoulder,
strands of
your silver hair-
too weak to inhale
you peck me instead
with chapped lips as
your last year begins.

(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.


Flat on my back
I taste your breath
as blades
hover for hours,
I will not sleep
despite good weed.

The doctor warned my
nips might tingle, so
I pull the duvet
tight and swaddle
myself, like you did
when you were alive,
to our baby girl.

Under the covers
I use my finger,

pink and hard,

still mine.(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.


Long-List Fish Poetry Prize