A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Watches the glow as the city burns.
Sees the women led to ships, and weeps.
Works at the deli counter, evening shift.
Survives the recent famine, drought.
Escapes at night from the Egyptian coup.
Kneels at a routine traffic stop.
Breathes in unison:
Blue-throated lizard on a low stone wall.
Swaying silver undersides of leaves.
Birds in mist above gray fields….their call…response.
Willowy brown boy at the bus stop
wants me to buy the transit pass he’s got.
What news from the watchman?
What say the sibyls, oracles?
Sulphurs from the cave?
Tells the on-the-street announcer:
“He was quiet…likeable…a little strange.”
Waits in jumpsuits, in a line of cells.
Hoards used foil from Meals on Wheels.
Our intimate, unfinished souls.
Begs with cardboard signs.
Sleeps beneath a bridge downtown.
After the bombing,
passes numbly through the smoking shards.
Calling something nameless forth.
Dances. Swaying hand-in-hand,
two Down syndrome girls, new friends,
linger as a wedding party ends.
Tends the household altars.
Goes online to shop.
Files forms in triplicate.
Timeless, trapped in time.
Impossible entanglement –
ghostly traces in a cyclotron.
Drinks the stagnant water and moves on.
Hears overhead the F-16’s.
Carries cracked, clay jars of barley, wine.
Brings the offerings.
Richard St. John is the author of Each Perfected Name (Truman State University Press, 2015), The Pure Inconstancy of Grace (published in 2005 by Truman State University Press, as first runner-up for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry), and Shrine (a long poem released as a chapbook in 2011).
(c) 2019 Richard St. John