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Christening the Dancer is available from Uccelli Press

Michael Ladanyi's interview with John Amen in the latest issue of Adagio Verse Quarterly

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Contributors

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His website www.johnamen.com

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Amen founded and continues to edit the online literary bimonthly, The Pedestal Magazine thepedestalmagazine.

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Contributor Notes

John Amen John Amen


Breathing

i.

Nowadays things unravel
between armloads of stone,
trips to the river of convenience;
I find myself in thick patches of thistle,
running barefoot through acres of hemlock.

Evening falls like pollen;
darkness is the coda in this symphony of habit.

I'm not sure that my eyes will last this lifetime.
What if my voice cracks during the song's crescendo?

ii.

Someday, when fools channel lightning,
when dogwood blossoms line courthouse steps,
you and I will carve heirlooms for your children.

I will memorize your family tree, run
hands through broken cogs and algae as truths
implode like a vampire exposed to the sun.

Our alphabet will be formed from configurations of ash,
scales from the cries of a wounded merman.
Already lovers line the riverbanks.

The crepe myrtle twists like a ballerina.
A dictator's speech echoes in our bedroom;
fields of pachysandra and periwinkle burn.

iii.

What tower of Babel crashes to the barren ground now?
What hairless Samson loiters in the rubble of his own making?

Thousands of faces beneath veils. A child roaming
corridors looking for his parents' bedroom. Fire
awakens like a beast, nuzzling white walls, raping curtains,
devouring rooms like a boa swallowing a rodent.

Brutus, Iago, Judas, the Land of Nod with its boundaries
of bone, sin, and blood. Shrinking rooms of the brain,
dark chambers roped off. Screams in the dungeon.

Buy familiar images in the gift shop of teeth.
Buy souvenirs, posters, memorabilia of phlegm.

What has changed since dawn? Has the cactus finally died of thirst?
I hear leaves complaining, hoarse voices swelling like a blister.

iv.

When spring's fullness rages like a master's palette,
when you grow heavy with remembrance, I promise
to strum my guitar until your muse descends,
until the perfect lyrics and melody deliver you.

There is no idea sewn into my eyes, no excuse
circling like a shark in the pool of my guts.
I am ready, like birds after rain.

I promise to water the geraniums.
I promise to sharpen the knives.
I promise to take measurements.

I promise to sing when the earwig of thunder
burrows, when the ravenous termite gnaws.

v.

My shoes are on fire with my own persistent story;
my throat is dry, and the things I wish to forget
continue to stalk me. Moods change like fashion;
these days anything can be reupholstered.

A crowd is screaming; waters part.
The dream is being interpreted:
Feast and famine are Siamese twins.

When doubt lingers like a bailiff,
I will balance our books, finalize plans,
paint a rainbow with semen and feces;
it is going to require fire and steel, all the
thick mud of Eden, beneath scabs of forgiveness.


Things Are Happening Too Fast

The wings of the world
are flapping like a fish in a dry pail.

Sometimes I terrify myself,
the things I could destroy.

There is a rainbow above the refinery;
in the hammock of stars, a scribe is weeping.

I pass like a current
through empty sockets of my mother's skull.

The day emerges like a mole.

Our Father, deaf and mute in the gilded air.


Before Anything Settles

My beautiful dread is draped
across April's new sculpture.

I daydream in a rotting cradle.

There is rust on the gate.
Remonstrance returns like heartburn.

The altar of atoms looms.

Sometimes I think I have lost myself
in phonebooks and metal shavings.

After darkness is sealed like a mason jar,
I ask the stars if they care to learn my name.