John Amen: Two Poems
The Legacy | Testament
So far, the reach of terror
steel fingers clawing in sand,
a missile's wake wagging
through gray skies
like a burning tail.
The ivory man is speaking,
words rolling like tanks
through a dreamscape of bridges
toward oil fields, fertile mesas
where grief is the native tongue.
We are in this madness together,
feasting at a buffet of hunger,
heads in the lap of death.
So soon silence falls,
a mother's nightmare.
The drama ceases to be real,
the imagination disappointed.
Barrages and sorties occur
as the trash is being taken out.
The epic is the shadow of the commonplace,
an empty wind after pollen has settled.
Our secret fears
manifest without fanfare,
precisely as we clench the deal.
Roads are potholed, littered with skulls
of a past generation's ambition,
Adam's fractured rage
impaled on a spear, left
for broadcasters to interpret.
See these corridors, tunnels of transition
where history lurks like a general
waiting for the right moment to attack.
Did I say what I was looking for? Did
I come to find anything? Outside these chambers,
there are voices: friends who tell me not to grasp,
that even the brackish water in this unholy place
flows, was sired on a snow-capped peak,
crawls like a wounded turtle toward some emerald sea:
Drama is the tumor. The moment is the conquistador,
hero arriving like a surgeon on Easter morning
to cut away the fingers that hold. Do not be anything.
Do not set up shop in this place.
Do not, they say, sentence yourself to repetition.
The blackboard is filled with formulas and charts:
We are in the classroom, but now a lone child,
a rebel dressed in red, dashes forward,
begins to erase the great pedagogue's
musings. I have not been outside in a while,
have not given my love figs or azalea blossoms.
In some time now, in some time now.
A raucous is rising, a mob forming. Floorboards
are buckling, mirrors shattering; the Bastille of
the blackboard is toppling like a Christmas tree.
Finally, crossing a bridge of shadows, I witness
a weary dove molting above an inlet of fire,
my father's mansion of bones crumbling at midnight;
beneath stars as brilliant as an exploding heart,
I hear Adam laughing, far from Eden.
John Amen's debut poetry collection, Christening the Dancer, was released by Uccelli Press in March 2003. He has published poetry and fiction in various magazines and journals, including 2River View, The Melic Review, Samsara Quarterly, Poetrybay, three candles, and The Drunken Boat. He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Further information is available on his website: http://www.johnamen.com. Amen founded and continues to edit the online literary bimonthly, The Pedestal Magazine. He has lived in New Orleans and New York, and currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.