Meet Cindy B. Stevens

Cindy is another poet I met at Table Rock Writers Workshop, this time while we studied with Phillip Shabazz. I was immediately taken by Cindy’s smile and laughter – which seem to be always just below the surface ready to escape, her eyes that often hold a mischievous shimmer, and the pure, nothing-held-back honesty of her poetry. Cindy is also an accomplished singer, a regular on the Murphy School Radio Show, so she brings a rhythm that sounds so natural, but it’s due to her use of language, her word choices, and the imagery she creates. A quiet wow was often our response after she read her poems.

In Cindy’s first collection, Naked, the title of the book appears in many forms in the poems – the act of being physically or emotionally exposed. There is such rawness and vulnerability in the narrators’s voices the reader may be uncomfortable, yet at the same time wanting to comfort. It’s a narrow space between the two but Cindy guides us through. With Cindy’s permission I’m sharing two poems from her collection. (The titles are bolded).

So here’s Cindy!

  1. Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote? How old were you? What was it about?

I don’t remember the name or exact content of the first poem I wrote, but I remember the creation. I was in elementary school, about nine years old, and my poem was lyrics with the tune in my head. My family’s life pretty much centered around our church, so the lyrics were faith-based. I remember sharing the song with a significant person in my life who told me that the song had already been written by somebody else.

  1. If you could share a cup of tea or coffee or raise a glass of wine with any poet, living or deceased, whom would it be?

I would love to sit with Amanda Gorman over a mug of tea. I think it would be a bitter, February day when we’d sit in my living room during the 2 p.m. bird gathering at the feeder. We’d wrap our hands around hot mugs and watch the birds come; we’d watch the birds go. We’d converse a bit, but mostly, we would quiet our thoughts.

the loom

when my oldest brother was killed

my mother’s bones began to deteriorate

sprinkled on the path like Gretel’s crumbs

they glowed silver in the gloom

my father was her buttress

she his

they considered scenarios to unravel mystery

reveal the mastermind of the crime

I wove my grief with metallic fibers

shrouded it in my tapestry’s warp

my silk and wool weft mirrored for the public wall

when my youngest brother died, father had passed

mother’s bones disintegrated

grayish grit obliterated what remained of the path

her life stopped

I couldn’t ease her grief

my words, acts, prayers

were useless

she forgot to love me

I remember the last time I heard

my youngest brother’s voice

before he left me

this inadequate survivor


I comb through the worn picture albums

through faces left behind

sometimes I don’t remember where in my life they belong

some have absolutely disappeared

still, others reassigned

to another place

another time

belong to someone else like the old dresses

who dance their debut at the second-hand shop

I linger

often enough

to punctuate the knowledge that my mind

at times

isn’t mine

delicate recognition



its fingers through my memories

with promises of sunshine for my vacant corner shadows

when  more awake

I whisper a prayer

that I’ll remember the person reflected in my mirror

and whether the faces belong to Palmer Avenue

Rural Route 6

or Westgrove Road

I won’t consign them to the rummage-sale table

Cindy B. Stevens ~ Naked

Available Main Street Rag Publishing Co.

And these two independent bookstores

Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough, NC

The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC

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