John Amen: Three Poems
Homecoming | Monologue for a Massacre | Pondering an Autobiography
I am still terrified when doors are left open,
I hear a car coming up the driveway.
I am taking dictation from my body.
I am holding an auction, but
who would want these things?
A toy engine with a blood stain on one of its wheels,
a testicle resting on the bottom of a pill vial.
Every morning for years,
I have masturbated onto this sterile ground.
Now I no longer trust the moon
or consider water to be my wife,
standing here, shivering, in the leaves.
Monologue for a Massacre
I dissected a drop of rain
and discovered a poultry farm,
thousands of hysterical chickens,
necks snapping to the sound
of an engine that wouldn't crank.
Later, in the psychedelic bathroom,
my house filled with drunkards,
I pried open my skull to witness
black children in chains
running naked through rows
of burning apple trees.
In my best moments,
I still come to with stomach cramps,
heart thrashing like an epileptic in a straitjacket;
above me, the billboard of a fading rainbow.
I will never be able to defecate all the rage I have eaten
or make peace with elephants lying mutilated in the brush,
ivory tusks hacked into cheap gewgaws,
much as I, too, have been hacked, into a man.
Pondering an Autobiography
I search for water
in broken hourglasses,
hammer on dry rot
until scaffolding collapses beneath me;
behold my entire story
in swatches and shards of china,
statuary carted off in dump trucks.
Running dry dirt through my fingers
has led me back to the same hearth,
the one that never housed a fire,
with a flue closed as tightly
as a bruised child's mouth.
John Amen's poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications, including Poetry Bay Magazine, Samsara Quarterly, The Southern Ocean Review, Branches Quarterly, The Adirondack Review, The Melic Review, Disquieting Muses, Thunder Sandwich, The Red River Review, 2River View, Poetry Magazine, Blue Fifth Review, The Ludlow Press Journal, Wilmington Blues, Stirring Magazine, and Twilight Times. Amen has toured extensively as a performing musician, both as a solo act and with a band, and has released three full-length recordings, "Wild but Willing", "Eat Mine", and "Four Forty Four". He is Editor-in-Chief of the online literary bimonthly The Pedestal Magazine.