Lisa St. John is a high school English Teacher and published poet. Her newest endeavors include a memoir in progress and, of course, poetry. Her first chapbook, Ponderings, can be purchased at Finishing Line Press. She lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley of upstate New York where she calls the Catskill Mountains home. Lisa has published her poetry in the Barbaric Yawp, Bear Creek Haiku, Misfit Magazine, The Poet’s Billow PKA’s Advocate, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and Chronogram Magazine. The poem “There Must Be a Science to This” won The Poet’s Billow’s Bermuda Triangle Contest and “Mowing the Lawn” was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize and later published in Fish Anthology 2016. She also has several travel articles posted on GoNomad.com. When she is not reading or writing longer pieces, Lisa enjoys thinking out loud on her blog, Random Mind Movements.
The Whens of Now
When the gloaming begins and the sky becomes a Turner painting,
when the air smells of fallen leaves and cut grass and the dog is tired from her run and the cats are just waking in a crepuscular mood, and crickets serenade the last of the fireflies—that now.
When hero-bats flood the dwindling horizon light and frogs are in a brief conclave with the sleepy bees,
when trees turn silhouette from the bottom up and when the product of technology and nature lovemaking blinks on
one by one in solared garden lights–
when just before the darkening oranges take over for their 15 seconds of fame and we could be in the Sedona Red Rocks or in a field of Van Gogh’s St Remy sunflowers,
when we sit on the rooftop in San Miguel de Allende drinking wine,
when, when, when this is now—if only for a moment. It was.
Oh, here comes the past tense again. Not yet.
I want to die before the imprinted pads of paper run out,
your logo disappearing.
I hurry to finish painting the barn because maybe when it’s done I too can be done
But then there’s the deck. I’m not sure what you would have wanted me to do with that. Repair? Tear down and make new?
My anger and frustration are only quelled by hiding the anger and frustration and
it takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of work.
Maybe when I am brave enough to listen to your voice again…the podcasts, the interviews—
maybe when I can at least
listen to your playlists (ever the DJ, you were).
Maybe then I can go.
Life is, indeed, very long, but I am more than hollow; I am carved and crooked.
Maybe when I can stop noticing your favorite yellow finches dining on purpled coneflowers—maybe if I can stop the tears when the pinks of apple blossoms from your tree appear
and stick to the wet wooden porch swing, maybe when September’s soft beckoning breeze refuses to remind me of your hand on my cheek—
On Seeing the Pieta
Her gentle face, eyelids crushed forever downward, holds in
the gasping sob that is her heart. One hand wrapped, one hand questioning, she breathes from the womb.
No thought is left. It is only desire and death, as always. Merciful pity, if one could be so redundant, has left no words for the mouth or mind—only salt.
Mary, your folds envelop so much more than your son. You are the eternal lap. A vestigial icon of femaleness,
how many goddesses died as whores to make room for you?
How many crones cried for the death of blood as birth? As power?
Your sheer spiritual circumference brings my tears.
Marble majesty, did he cry as he found you underneath the chisel sound? Did he know who he unearthed?
You are of stone. You are of splendor. You, mother of all mothers, are my secret pagan queen.