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I Had Passed This Man Many Times

ISSUE:  Spring 2003
Brian Teare

& always wondered where he found
The blue parka he wore Even in July

I had never spoken to him Not once
But I always noticed the bottle of Miller’s
In his right hand The brew I used to drink

Nor had I listened to Antarctica whistle
Through that long gray cracker-dotted beard
As he squeaked his K-Mart shopping cart
Up curb & over sewer grate through alley

Marble lug nut gravel & cobble stone
Where he kept talking His unearthly vowels
Leaping from both lips like curious Alaska
Hummingbirds His charmed consonants
From Saudi Arabia or some subterranean rock

Plate rumble Whenever I saw him I’d mumble
“Don’t worry John In the other world soon
He will definitely be ahead of you & his looks
More comely” But here he is again at midnight
Covered with a blanket of snow & the red lace
Doily of this police cruiser’s dark & rhythmic pulse

John Mckernan


Hansel & Gretel
Are safely in their cages

Another handful
Of bread crumbs
Should do it

The apricots
Have arrived
Wearing their orange sugar bonnets

The week after
I dried out
Someone wove a spiderweb In my brain
The size of a football field
That had been folded over Many times

John Mckernan

There came a cloud
and overshadowed them
and they feared as they
entered into the cloud.

Luke 9, 34



It was early. Many
were barefoot. Some
stole clogs from doorsteps
and bolted, as if
staying in motion
could keep them alive
at ground zero.

Hiroshima blistered
at sea level.
It was the Catholic feast
of Jesus glorified
on Mt. Tabor.

Luke writes
the light about Jesus
was so great his raiment
turned white
and glistering.

The apostles
to behold this

must have
shielded their eyes.


Tanaka Kiyoku
fleeing the city on fire
saw “a giant tree burning
from its middle.”

Did she know the hard
inner pith of a tree
is called heartwood?

There is no heartwood
in the family of trees
called ficus religiosa,
or bodhi,

beneath which Buddha sat
to be the light.
It is said these trees,
having no heartwood,

are truly empty.


In “A Child Remembers,”
Tanaka Kiyoku, maybe nine
in 1945, focuses
on the young girl dying
in the boat to
Ninoshimo Island.

On the man flapping crazily
in circles,
a massive chunk of wood
in one eye. On people
hurling themselves
into watertanks
to soothe all degrees
of their skins.

She does not soothe
her schoolgirl brain
with a geography lesson:

Japan has eight major islands.

Nor does she mention
the cloud
become a cliché

for violence
with breathtaking style.

She quotes the dying girl’s
last words:

tell my mother where I am.

she calls her city
after the Flash
“ocean of fire.”

Elisabeth Murawski


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