Zoe Stoffel

The Black House


The day sank into the hills
where coal’s smoke floated
black against the blue,
warm and heavy and dry,
like the cough
your uncle coughs
when he comes home,
face black like your brother’s
and your father’s and
his father’s before him.

Your mother sighs
and wipes the grime
from china you’ll never use.


an empty middle america


I forgot how hills grow:
ample bosoms rippling
across a quiet fury.
unfair forests – no
equality there between
conifers and deciduous
beasts each stretching
up and out and deep beneath
like rubber-bands pulled
too thin.



Zoe Stoffel is currently pursuing her MA in English from the University of Dayton, where she is specializing in Writing and Rhetoric. She now lives near Cincinnati, Ohio with her fiance, two cats, hedgehog, and tarantula, though she is originally from West Virginia. Because of her rural childhood, nature – specifically Appalachia – influences much of her writing. Her other poems can be found in the magazine Enizagam.

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