I will treat myself to a sip of vodka

        every quarter mile 

This might be Africa   Wet   Humid   Trees 

The women glowing in starlight   Pet tears

        in the creases of their hands & chins 

Many fields hold thin lakes of dew    Deeper in light 

I expect a corpse any minute now   Dangling

        from a bent tree

Nada    Silent jawbone of the moon    Gravel 

I don't think this is really an earthquake 

I want this quiet to be raped by a violin 

A crib sheet listing the names of all the bad

        popes in Latin   Whose list? 

A. R. Ammons died yesterday   He asked

        me to call him Archie   I said Yes Sir 

He usually found something outside his skull 

I'd like to see his corpse   I wonder if
        he was wearing those blue Bib Overalls 

Look Jack   Up there in the sky   It's not you-

        r pain or your history or shoe size or ... 

It is a shadow flying   Hard wing flap   A slap 

Then gone Replaced with the cry of a . . .   High


I'll bet that is the neighbor's rabbit   The one

        she had bought for her daughter's birthday

A lot of words never appeared in an

        Ammons poem

Sorrow   Pain   Grief   Howl   Mother Teresa 

Good    I'm happy to have poems that hurt us

        without knives or driveby shootings

Goodbye   Mister Ammons    I will miss your

        bright clean honest eye     Your line


Asters   Daisies   Chicory   Blackeyed Susans
"It just stopped me cold   Cold"

Memory's Elysian Fields

Most of all
When out gardening
I love the swing of a mattock
Or the spade's deep delve

Dirt has more meaning
When four leaf clovers die
When worms are sliced to threes
Helping to teach me not to lie & how hard
It must be to plant a soul in this earth

John McKernan teaches at Marshall University in West Virginia. Recent poems of his have appeared in The Paris Review, Kestrel, The Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Manoa. A chapbook of his Greastest Hits was published in 2002 by Pudding House.