Illustrations in GQ Magazine

Max Stephan


“Its durability is remarkable.  Its power of persuasion unrivaled.  So when something goes wrong…”


                                                – Jim Thornton


With just enough semblance,

the drawings gnaw, rip, tear

at everything virile:


                        a Morel –

                                    bloated, swollen;


                        a Morel –

                                    around its stalk, a warranted ring;


                        a Morel –

                                    drooping, limp, lame;


                        a Morel –

                                    wasting away.


Behind blank eyes,

these are the fears

that all men hide,






in muted thoughts,



but do not, cannot, forget –




hoping never,




to be the specimen

shadowed beneath a pall.




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: