Dove Chorale

A chorus of mourning doves
serenades passing motorists
along the shaded gravel road.
Their coos are comforting,
and I slow down to listen.
They welcome all who pass
and soothe them
into autumn splendor.

By Harding Stedler

mourning dove in tree lit by autumn sunset


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.

Photo by blscooch

Balancing Between The Trains

Parallel rails
divide the mining camp,
and the world passes through
on steel.
In dimly lighted passenger cars,
wealthy merchants steal
our poverty from the night.
Our curtains wave
through open windows
as we sleep among the whistles,
our only way to welcome strangers.

In daylight, between afternoon trains,
we learn to balance
on the tracks
and gather spilled coal in buckets
for the night fires.
The new-coal smell
keeps strangers at bay.
The burned-coal clouds
hem guardian hillsides
that frame the sooted shacks.

Our world is lonely,
and we are trapped
in a valley of despair.
At the company store,
we smile without teeth
and pose for disposable cameras.

By Harding Stedler


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.

A Rehearsal of Wind

A December sky
left ducks to shiver
and take refuge
in the swamp grass
of September.
I walked backwards
on my journey
around the lake today,
feeling my sojourn
was one of rewind.

No amount of huddling
could bring summer back.
As a child of warmth,
I could not return to August sun.
It had faded into hiding,
where worms measure daylight
by the segment.

By Harding Stedler

ducks sheltering in grass on a winter pond


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.

Photo by Ben Thomasian

Catlike Whiskers

In the bottom of the lake,
your whiskers rub gently
against the turtle’s crusty shell
with an amorous touch.
The turtle knows not
what to make of the affection
and squirms its way
among the waves,
paddling its way
toward shore.

I sense its bewilderment
in its attempt to escape
the passionate pursuit
of the catlike barbels.
It is unquestionably shell-shocked.

By Harding Stedler


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.

New Tenant

The back door left ajar
was the perfect invitation
for Bossy to enter
and make herself at home.
When I returned, I witnessed
a trail of cow pies
all the way into the bedroom,
and there was Bossy,
sprawled out on the bed.
I was flabbergasted,
to say the least,
never dreaming
my new bedmate
would utterly be a cow.

By Harding Stedler


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.