Portfolio: “The Husband Poems” by J. Hope Stein

The Husband Poems 

Taken From Occasionally, I Remove Your Brain Through Your Nose: A Book of Poems

The book cover of "Occasionally, I Remove Your Brain Through Your Nose: A Book of Poems" by J. Hope Stein is white, with a hand-drawn picture of a girl pulling a colorful variety of objects out of another character's nose.
Cover of Occasionally, I Remove Your Brain Through Your Nose: A Book of Poems by J. Hope Stein  

Just Married

Husband is food. I mean good
or roof. Which husband? Men,
women and snowmen—Where…
is my underwear? Husband wakes me
with licking cheeks. I make pillow
of husband’s shoulder & husband.

Sousing the dishes topless for husband:
I douse the mugs & bowls with warm
lemon froth & bubble; I sponge
our utensils: spoon, knife & prong,
for food we will eat next Tuesday
& Sunday & Tomorrow; I scrub
& bristle & muscle the pig-headed pans
with sporadic splash & suds to skin;
I rinse & fill & rinse & empty & fill & empty
& fill & empty to the music of water on twice the dishes.

Husband puts his face in a bowl of afternoon
cereal & we sing: Where, where is my underwear?
In the phenomenal
sock project, I watch husband place lone socks
across the kitchen table:
could be inside a pair of pants or suitcase.

In the earth of blankets,
I gladden husband
by the glow of candlelight through the sheets.
(Where is my underwear?) The sky
drools sweetly to the ear,
the purring animals in our bed.
Light snore, the seashore at night.


Home Movie

Inarticulate squeaks—A mouse?
standing in a grey button-down shirt—
head pressed against
a wall of books—getting industrious
with something between his legs.
CLOSE UP: Husband inserts
his penis into a fish bowl
(whistling Beethoven) 22 frames
per second. CUT TO: INTERIOR
I maneuver a light bulb covered in shaving cream.
A trail of white foam, little white caps
leads down to my hips and hands.
I’m listening to Beethoven.
CLOSE UP: Music swells
as it disappears into my pelvis.

There are as many ways of fucking
as disposing of the dead. But in our country,
when the filaments of two minds curl toward
each other—this, we call a kiss.



An animal gives off a certain light, don’t you
think? I’m talking to a woman cooking
chicken in 1846. We grow old, us
& the chicken. Interspecies love
is never easy. Talking doll/Talking
clock. But how to cook boneless, skinless
chicken? I’m talking to a girl in 1886.
Have you found your thoughts depend
on what’s in hand and which hand?
And as much as war? The 20-year-old
man beside her wears his cap low over
his eyes. His mouth is the dirt path
to meadow. His mind, a decomposing
mouse up ahead. Cook ‘til the water runs
clear. I’m talking to a woman in 1990
pregnant & horny—an artist
with a talent for eye pencil & shadow.
On Monday she paints her lids red.
Her irises are the blue intestines of fire.
Husband dumps a pail of water on her face—
smothers her with a blanket of mouth & muscle.
They make rain and grassy mud.
On Tuesday there is only blackness & thick
wet mascara with tiny lightning bolts
at the corner of her eyes and between
her eyes. Husband is hit by a hailstorm.
On Wednesday her clean wet lashes
are like a child who doesn’t want to get out of the tub—
the back of his hand along skin.
His ring along skin & catching lip & skin.
Husband brings pieces of chicken
to her mouth. Sauce dripping jaw—
chicken, there is only chicken.


Sometimes I Hear Husband

Sometimes I hear Husband turn his pages
faster than mine & I
become irritated—
& throw a book across the room—
an ember
in husband’s eye that rounds his balls.

“Come here, sensitive, we are
both turning
because the mind is turning…”

Save it for the factory, husband!
Only animal pantomime
& balloons, please.

Husband moves like an inchworm
across the carpet.
Does his best monkey.
Motions as if to offer a string connected
to something in sky
& I take it.

We act as two animals holding invisible balloons.


J. Hope Stein is a poet and editor of poetrycrush.com and eecattings.com. She’s the author of the chapbooks Talking Doll (Dancing Girl Press), Mary (Hyacinth Girl Press) and Corner Office (H_ngm_n).

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