Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Richard St. John: Reading Shaw’s Play, St. Joan at the Solstice, on a Greyhound, Heading Home        

The year comes round again, with its own dark

fairness.  Out on the turnpike, flecks of sleet.

Lightning through night clouds, ghostly, then stark.

Echo of thunder.  In the tabloid at my seat

old scatterings return:

flicker of war in the Congo and Sudan,

late-season hurricanes, tainted meat.


All around me, whispered conversations of the poor.

Two rows up, a solitary reading lamp.

We’re making good time, but where?

The bus outruns its headlights in the dark,

sucking diesel fuel.

I turn back to Joan of Arc,

where the French cause seems lost, too.

No one believes in her.  But Joan insists:

“God speaks to me.  I hear his voice.”

“That’s your imagination,” they reply.  “Of course,

she says, “isn’t that how God speaks?”


It’s snow now – giddy, dizzy flakes

are multiplying everywhere.

They clean the air;

like once when I was lost in abstract

speculation, and a good friend asked:

“Can’t we cut the crap

and just agree we’re all together on this bus?”


At the service stop

we pile out – all of us

laughing.  Woman in a burka holds her daughter up,

who points at the wildering white, amazed.

“Jesus, it’s beautiful…”

a guy with a Rasta cap and dreadlocks says

as he catches a snowflake on his outstretched hand.

The year in its fairness comes round again.


From Each Perfected Name by Richard St. John (Truman State). Reprinted in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

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