July 10, 2019

John McKernan: A Deeper Look

John McKernan: A Deeper Look
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  
 
More mud 
 
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     
 
Especially  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

#despair#life#people#poetry
About theSusi Bocks
Susi Bocks has done the typical experiences life has to offer - a career, marriage, and birthing two amazing humans but now resides in the middle of Kansas, where she identifies as a writer and author. She has published two books - Feeling Human and Every Day I Pause. Poetry is her primary focus, but all her thoughts reside at IWriteHer.com, where she invites you to read her and get to know her.

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