MIDNIGHT PHONE CALLS FROM MY ALIAS
Quit pretending you are still a teenager
That girl at Wal-Mart keeps asking about you
Have you written your obituary yet?
Which of President Kennedy’s sluts did you like best?
I’m not frightened Are you?
Where have you been hiding?
Making any money selling cheap fireworks?
Why don’t you visit me anymore?
Sure Go ahead Enlist in the Marine Corps
Here are some verbs to help you out Crawl
Slither Sneak Snivel Grovel
Let me tell you something you need to know
You want a crate of chocolate chip cookies?
Buddha walked through the door showing us the new
tattoos His entire body a geranium covered
in blue and green and black and yellow and red
What would it take to make you speechless?
A maniac’s kitchen knife to cut out your tongue
DIAMONDS OF SWEAT
Drop to the dry ground
Tiny explosions of dust
A large serving of memory please
In a chilled wine glass
With slivers of yesterday
I always knew I enjoyed
Crawling in mud to trap worms & toads
But I never dreamed
I wanted to die
Come Here Death Come Here Right Away
The singer whispered
Thumping his needled hands
On his broken bongo drum
Lyrics carved in midair with a gold needle
LOTS OF MUD
Red Black White Green Mud
Gray Brown Yellow Mud
And then some
In the form of dust particles
To hear the mud
Step into the brick mold
And remember you forgot
The straw in this batch
Even the donkeys look hungry this morning
Chewing meadow daisies and chicory
As you lift a gob of clay
Onto the slow spinning wheel
And feel something like water slide
Across your fingertips
You like the cool feel of tree shade
Against the brick kiln and know
If you created life from this mud
That new life would soon create words
For Water and Mud and Green
SOME DAY AFTER TOMORROW The eye A chalice of maggots The tongue Dry as a dead red ant Both lips Quiet the granite J Toe nails Finger nails Growing Both hairy ears Calm Nest-quiet My fingerprints still on the phone Squeaky voice inside the answering machine Hello This is John McKernan I'm not here right now Please leave a message after the beep
John McKernan – who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, in the middle of the USA – is now a retired comma herder / Phonics Coach after teaching 41 years at Marshall University. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selection of poems – Resurrection of the Dust. He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field, and many other magazines