I’m now 82 and looking to complete my Selected Poems 2004-2018. This will be my 9th book of poems. My previous Selected Poems was Inhabited World: New & Selected Poems 1970-1995 (The Wallace Stevens Society Press 1995). After 33 years of teaching college English, I continue to enjoy winters on Hilton Head Island, SC. One of the results of being there was my collection of poems titled Lowcountry (New Directions 2007).
Enough. I mean it. The end of the end. I know the Volga,
the Platte, the Zambezi, the Mississippi flow to a conclusion.
This is no pristine or muddy river. This is not open arms in
the final door of a journey. There’s nowhere to get to, though
you cross the bridge over Skull Creek, count the ospreys
sitting in the girder work of towers, ready to nest or fly,
stay or depart. Think how you double the knot on your sneakers
to stop tripping yourself when you decide to go. Where,
my friend, where? You think dying is the last of it? Of what?
The birds at the two feeders—chickadee, yellow finch, titmouse
with its quizzical head, red-bellied woodpecker and its red hood,
mourning dove’s throaty sorrow, the brown thrasher out of its
grassy element— they always know where to go. Could they not
perch on the back of your hand in some kind of acknowledgment?
First published in Hotel Amerika
THOUGH IT HAS NO NAME
Maybe it's self-pity. Just take it in your hand.
If it has eyes, it will out-stare you, or twitch,
as if you lifted a bloodied blade. If it has legs,
it will stand with feet apart and ride your motion.
It will dance as if on coals, awkwardly, its feet
so very small, its rocking back and forth
a vaudeville routine so like your grand-
mother's in the London music hall. What can
you do but smile, as it tears off its shirt to ex-
pose a wound, and grimaces--now that it has .
a face--at the lack of any flow of redness,
this clear ichor oozing from its punctured breast,
a bearded god above you frowning from his
First published in The Great River Review
©2018 John Allman
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