Peninsula Poetry: Allison Stephenson Haus

Allison Stephenson Haus is a geochemist and geologist who works in environmental consulting. She and her husband have four boys. Poetry is a creative, happy hobby in which Dr. Haus’ love of rocks and Door County are on display. Find more of her lyric verse on beer sold at the Peach Barn Brewing in Sister Bay.

What’s your writing routine?

A few wonderful classes at Write On have helped me to develop more of a “routine,” including setting weekly goals around time to write. However, this is a busy season of life, between little kids and working, and I hope to claim more time to write as my kids grow. For now, I do best if I wake up very early to write.

What do most poorly written poems have in common?

Bad poems lack authenticity, specificity, and sometimes don’t communicate a feeling.

What do most well-written poems have in common?

Well-written poems paint a picture, offer a connection, come from a true place, make us feel something.

Is it important to understand the meaning of the poem or for the reader to be able to “solve” it?

I think each reader brings their own perspective to the poem and may take away something different.

What book are you reading right now?

I am reading The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s a fabulous read and a frightening vision of what the world may look like if we don’t stop climate change. I strongly recommend it.

Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry in 2015 and continues to meet.

Bliss is 

Sun-lit my son slams
Toy sword onto beach shore rimes 
Ice breaks, flies to lake
Dork County Resident

At a potluck with geology grad-school foodie friends 
        My favorite place 2000 miles away got painted at the table
               Cerulean inland sea, lately both salt- and shark-free (geologically speaking), 
                with space to roam all seasons, 
               Silurian-age escarpment, bespeckled by cedar trees,
               Cherry blossoms, my dear ones, every first first I’ve ever known.
                         If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it, why don’t you move there?
                                    So then the Dork did
On the Rocks

Sunset cruising on the Island Clipper, 
a stuttering arm wave insufficient, refracted in lakebed blue,
          to see sunken boats, the big rock, and “On the Rocks”:
Backyard beside the old burn bin, cedar bike rack, antenna where we played house
           in rock-lined rooms, green leaf roofs, 
           big boulder beds, ferns for food, 
Cramped cabin where we cribbed cribbage as we could count, 
           mesmerized those rainy days, memorizing Indiana Jones via VHS, 
           ate, elbows touching, on buffalo check print,
           fell still to the peaceful lull-pulse of the lake,
Rocky beach where we sang secrets round countless bonfires,  
           trapped sluggish crayfish in ice cream buckets, 
           graffitied our opus on glacier-worn limestone,
           staged gendered seaweed fights for decades, 
           measured time in evanescence, 
Dock where we dreamed our lives up, under a gyrating Milky Way,
            celestial beings, adjacent to God, 
            inhaling cedar scent, drunk on eternity,
           skinny-dipped like screaming Sirens, surfing the Northern’s swells, 
           delivered idiosyncratic first kisses,
           shouted our names and wishes at falling stars.
I am from

I am from pink goose-down comforters on bunk beds, ceiling stars still stuck and glowing.
I am from closets overstuffed with hand-me-downs and thrift store finds that never fit quite right.
I am from Navajo rugs hanging high on the walls, souvenirs of family roadtrips.
I am from delicate pots shaped by my aunt's fingers, shining on the limestone fireplace.
I am from Rowley, yellow lab on his back, tongue lolling out and grinning, painted by my brother.
I am from Little Tyke town, roller skates on cement, vinyl crooning BB King, Elvis, Sonny and Cher.
I am from tense 4-way splits of mac-n-cheese, from over-baked chicken and undercooked pork.
I am from 40 cardboard boxes housing 50-year-old photo slides of a snow monkey troop in Japan.
I am from mink fur stoles smelling of mothballs and something lost, stuffed down in the basement.
I am from shrimp cocktail and tinned octopus, a bed piled high with coats at the New Year’s Party.
I am from a Steinway grand with notched ivories, yellow-stained from highlighter.
I am from newspapers piled five feet high, every National Geographic since 1900.
I am from dark-rimmed glasses and puns, his favorite leather recliner surrounded by 5000 books.
I am from Owen Gromme's pheasants, a kinship with Aldo Leopold, and wonder for Nature's design. 
I am from a thirsty garden, riddled with groundhog humps, yielding too much zucchini.
I am from a yard half-wild with buckthorn, mulberries, and illicitly transplanted trilliums.
I am from a maple tree fort by the old barbed-wire fence, where we sometimes found morels in spring.
I am from kites flown in cornfields, boxed in by bluffs, oak savannas on top.
I am from a hilltop house leaning west toward the Driftless, a llama farm down below.