Issue > Poetry
John McKernan

John McKernan

John McKernan—who grew up in Omaha Nebraska—is now a retired comma herder after teaching 41 years at Marshall University. He lives—mostly—in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press . His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust. He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines.

Night Minus All Sound

Night of a diamond hammered to coal

Night of a fish breathing lethal oxygen

Night spinning into the center of the brain

Night without name in a syllable of sleep

Night in Nebraska with its bucket of five
     billion pounds of ice

Night in June when the Sirens wore parkas
     to the pool party

Night when a corpse invaded the space
     where his body had lived for years

Night with its shadow dictionary holding
     the alphabet of silence

Night of owl whistle and the drip of blood
     on polished glass

Why Not Now?  whispered Night stabbing
     my father in both his eyes

Night when the mirror in the closet door
     remembered nothing

Night with hair still growing on the pillow  

Night with the longer fingernails

Night painted on thick black velvet cloth
     the stars' Scream By Number kit

Night of loose teeth chattering Morse Code
     in the skull

Night calling out the word Autopsy to a field
     of  wandering sheep

Night whose dictionary is a ream of white
     mimeo paper wrapped in cellophane

Night keeps inventing new words to erase
     the silence inside each finger

Insomniac Night spent reading the trial records
     of famous murders

Night when the corpse began speaking one
     eternal silent vowel

The sound of spray paint in the Night     Dirty
     words on a cinder block wall

The bat that imitates his shadow

Night to take apart every sentence without
     acid or crowbar

Night with its quilt of Capital Letters

Night saying Yes to the needle in the haystack

Night saying  No to Tomorrow's erasers

Night whispering   In the absence of orders
     go find something and kill it

Night    Beam of sunlight tossed into the dry well

Night   An oak bucket full of water vapor

Night   Rungs of the ladder still inside the oak tree

Night's answer to every question and innuendo is
     Escape

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