Issue No. 18, Autumn 2016

I Leave the Iron Age Entirely to One Side
Annie Stenzel

The Stone Age makes sense.
So little time; so many enemies;
a world of want, if you survive

your infancy. You take a stone,
shape it with another stone, affix it to a
tree limb with supple vine:

here’s a weapon, blunt and brutal.

But the Bronze Age baffles:
your campfire wasn’t nearly hot enough
to smelt the tin by serendipity.

Wide vein of copper in a rock?
A pretty thing, and I can see you
pick it up, transport it home

and talk it over with your people.
But was it happenchance
that chunk of stone landed in the kiln?

Was it when you first saw molten
copper, watched it harden, held its bright
potential in your hands, struck it

with your trusty stone-made hammer,
took in the texture’s change?

Was that when time contracted and you raced
headlong to sword, shield, and spear, arrow
tip, dagger, battle axe—your dazzling armory?


Annie Stenzel’s poems have most recently appeared (or are forthcoming) in the print journals Kestrel, Ambit, and Catamaran Literary Reader, and the online journals Rat’s Ass Review, American Journal of Poetry, and Blue Lyra Review. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Best of the Net. She received a B.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, both from Mills College. Stenzel is also a letterpress printer, never happier than when her hands are covered in ink. She pays the bills by working at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.