Frosted Finger Lichen (Dactylina ramulosa)

Max Stephan


Like a climactic scene

from an episode of Criminal Minds, where

shrouded in shallow ground

beneath the shade of an ancient oak,

the odds-and-ends of an UNSUB’s love



A simple committal,






                        exposed –






                                                                        black and blue,


but with a fixed, post-mortem grip



                                                            holding on,

                                                            holding on to






                                    any longer.




Max Stephan’s writing has appeared in Appalachia, the Christian Science Monitor, the Broad River Review, the Main Street Rag, the Wayfarer, Kestrel, the Rockhurst Review, the Kerf, Slipstream, the Potomac Review, Blueline, the Cimarron Review and the Louisiana Review. Recently Stephan was awarded Fellowship at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, noted as a finalist in the 2019 Rash Award in Poetry Competition, the 2019 Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Contest, and invited to write the featured story for the upcoming issue of Appalachia honoring the work of Mary Oliver (Winter, 2020). Currently he is wooing publishers with a manuscript entitled “Alice Said” – the first book-length collection of poems solely based on mycology by one author. Stephan teaches at Niagara University, specializing in Contemporary American Poetry; runs a poetry series on campus entitled “Western New York Poets;” and hosts “Second Stage Writers” – a monthly reading in the city of Buffalo, which brings together both young and established voices. Learn more about Max Stephan at: