Jul/Aug 2013 Poetry

Three Poems

by John McKernan

Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss

Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss

My Grandfather Had My Name

And a yellow parakeet on each shoulder

Who would not move while he slept

The thin sweater smelled of Falstaff beer

And his breath of Prince Albert tobacco

I spent hours in his house in South Omaha

Staring at fog threading his backyard pear trees

Waiting for him to fall asleep in a rocker

So I could move close to his missing thumbs

I spent days wandering    Looking at mirrors

In the bath kitchen and hall    Wet windows

Spoons    Sharpened knives    White plates

Dusty pictures hammered into the wall

I spent weeks searching for part of my father

In that man snoring in his rocker    All I

Found was a coal mine in Kansas he never

Mentioned and the smell of burnt out peat

On a hearth in Ireland he fled as a child


You Died at Dawn on Cape Hatteras

Despised your children
Hated your wife

Loathed your colleagues
Mocked your students
Laughed endlessly at West Virginia

What word or words
Am I supposed
To lug
Into these lines

What words
Will catch
That red sliver of dawn light
The rainbow on the water
The blinding sun light

You alone with your last breath
Casting lures into the ocean surf
Your first Social Security check
In your retirement back pocket
Behind the keys to a new Mercedes
And a beautiful beach cottage

Goodbye    I will say    Goodbye    Goodbye


Corpses Banished

Landscape of dark light
The night sky one star

My words on the page
Wearing little coats
Of black ink rose

From deep slumber
Unspelled themselves
Shimmied & shivered
With the ant shadows

Towards the edge of the page
Pale & white
Whispering    Erase us please    Go to sleep
We prefer a landscape without death


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