Sunday, July 21, 2019

Journey Back to Canaan (for Jake St. John) by John Greiner



                        I

In New England
knee deep
in the whiskey
killing time; 
Jake's message
ends in 
the poem,
a recitative
for the song
that words fled.
Passing by
it adds up
to notes 
long gone
and an angel
broken on
the ground
who grasps
for a melody.
We never
heard that song
straight,
fresh.

The band wanted
to play on and on 
but was left to go 
dead on the turntable.
We suffer
the indignity
of that silence.

The kids are shushed
somewhere else
not knowing
the divorce to come
that will take them 
to the funhouse in rubble
where they will be able
to pick through 
the remains 
of nursery rhymes,
longing for the love 
of the cow 
who jumped
over the moon
and landed 
without applause.
The leap is simple.
There are few grand gestures
and even less noble ones.

Sweat drenched,
we lie awake listening
to the snores of hard 
won success at our side.

II

It's been raining all week.
The soaked run to the museum.
Central Park is devoid
of picnickers and sightseers. 
The tourists come in to see
all of the things that they don't
    want to see.
Snuff time, seek culture.
Bored on the benches they snore.
Snuff culture and just settle.
I stand around
a secondary character
in the eyes of third stringers
waiting to get away
and go home,
wanting to get a seat
on the subway train
that is always going nowhere fast.

III

Home.
I've made it
almost home.
The COPA
América Cup
is on all 
of the so many
television sets
in the bar
down the stairs
from the 
elevated
train, 
out here;
Queens,
Astoria,
home.

Home.
I've made it
almost 

Home.
The bar
is packed with
yellow jerseys,
the unrestrained
roar of the want
and triumph
of home.

Colombia scores.

This is 
for a moment
the somewhere else
come back to,
the place left
behind.
Home.

IV
By now,
In New England
Jake is drowning
in the whiskey
and time 
has been killed
in the city
where the submarines
are built 
to save America
from all the fish
that swim upstream.
The weather
has gotten funky
in this post-nuclear
apocalypse age.
So much has passed
without ever coming.
No one seems to give
a damn about what's next.
I'm knee deep
in the night,
in this city
where tomorrow
is drenched in
an anticipation
and anguish
no different
from today's.
Up there
in New England
Jake is in his wilderness
ready to wrestle
and be blessed
and dream of
the ladder
with the angels
going to and fro
while shutting out 
the sound
of all the snores
that rise up.
Here, 
in New York City
the Colombians
are living home.
I imagine New England
while looking
around at all the TVs.

V

We weren't around
for the song
that fled words.
We weren't around
to hear it straight
from the saxophonist
who wished
to become a saint
on the night
that he forgot
the mountain 
that he wanted
to climb.
We, like the long gone band,
have been left to go dead
on the turntable,
children lost
in the funhouse rubble,
divorced 
from 
mother,
father
and the dignity
of sound.
Qatar
loses
to Colombia
one - nil.
Far from home
the Colombians
celebrate
with Jamaican rum
and Mexican beer.

I pay the bill,
walk out
caught 
in the 
sound build
to song
that races
away
from
words.





John Greiner is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer living in Queens, NY. He was educated at the New School for Social Research.  Greiner's work has appeared in Sand, Empty Mirror, Sensitive Skin, Unarmed, Street Valueand numerous other magazines. His chapbooks, broadsides and collections of poetry and short stories includeTurnstile Burlesque (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017), The Laundrymen(Wandering Head Press, 2016), Bodega Roses (Good Cop/Bad Cop Press, 2014),Modulation Age (Wandering Head Press, 2012), Shooting Side Glances(ISMs Press, 2011) and Relics From a Hell’s Kitchen Pawn Shop (Ronin Press, 2010). 

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