Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the middleclass! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebellion!
— Allen Ginsberg, “Footnote to ‘Howl’ ”
Answers are demanded of too many questions.
Write the vision, plain as a tabletop,
carved into barroom wood.
Vision has a time appointed,
presses on, will not lie. Wait for it.
Let go, ungrasp.
Let go, free.
Promissory note, hope.
The structure of bread.
A new moon over Highway 77.
Reptile, ogre, jackal, mud
— pure as any other thing.
Singer-king leapt and whirled
and claimed his loot, sinner
that he knew himself to be and prophet.
Wisdom is queen.
Patrick T. Reardon
Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, has authored twelve books, including the poetry collections Requiem for David (Silver Birch), Darkness on the Face of the Deep (Kelsay) and The Lost Tribes (Grey Book). His memoir in prose poems Puddin’: The Autobiography of a Baby was published in November, 2022, by Third World Press with an introduction by Haki Madhubuti. His website is patricktreardon.com. His poetry has appeared in Rhino, Main Street Rag, America, Autumn Sky, Burningword Literary Journal and many others. His poem “The archangel Michael” was a finalist for the 2022 Mary Blinn Poetry Prize.
The usual builders’ rubble, buckled screws,
snapped trowel-heads, small chunks of plank,
the strips of broken two by two, the bottle-caps.
(Images of blokes in spring and summer sun
drilling, fixing, tamping, swigging.)
A foot or two, a generation lower,
the first sheep’s bones. My farming cousin
confirmed their species, and this had been
the slaughterhouse field, where sheep, pigs, cows,
would wait their entry to the abattoir.
(My father’s gang, living a street away as boys,
would listen to the squeals and bleating,
before the thud. The sudden laden silence.)
I wondered about those bones. So how
did they escape the slaughter? And for what?
Then suddenly a skull, a flat crushed skull
(my cousin said a lamb of two years old).
So what obscure extinction?
My daughter, nine years old, dealt with it
earnestly, calling the remnant “Larry”.
We buried him between the compost and the beans
and raised a simple cross.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has appeared widely in Britain and the USA. He won the Prole Pamphlet Competition in 2017 with Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes. In the USA he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times in the last three years.
Life is and is not like a poem.
The poem enters a room with variable dimensions
And all at once I feel it sway.
My feet enter a room and its colors are always the same.
A line comes dressed with the surprise of sudden stops
And redresses itself with every turn it makes into the next;
There is no dirty laundry hanging on the line.
A day without lines is a day filled with boredom.
An average line escapes like a melodic flute or trombone
Towards the back of an orchestra;
In my everyday world it’s the only instrument I play.
I pay out the line as the poem comes near to its dock.
A poem has a theory of movement and each movement a sign;
A life has more movements and hopes for more time.
MICHAEL SALCMAN: poet, physician and art historian, was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, The Café Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti, The Enemy of Good is Better, Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing, A Prague Spring, Before & After, winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize, and Shades & Graces, inaugural winner of The Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020). Necessary Speech: New & Selected Poems was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2022.