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Poem of the Week: Luke Johnson
Posted By Brian Chappell On August 11, 2011 @ 1:23 pm In Poems of the Week,Poetry and Poetics | No Comments
Psalm for Third Base
Fingers have their own prayers,
often crossed, but also bunched
in pockets for warmth or comfort:
there, amidst the fumble-scratch
of eager hands, there where verbs
take root: touch, trace, fist. There
in the back pew of a filled church
with a skirt tented just-so, a boy’s fingertips
graze inside, the sanctuary couched
in beeswax-smoke. There, the salvation
of dim light, brass candelabras holding
their tarnished glow in the black flame
just above the candlewick. It is there
at the back of the chapel with the choir
singing hallelujah and angels on walls
shimmering fallen light that the boy
receives what he expects from religion:
fanfare, epiphany, movement. So
it is there that the boy lingers, the edge
of where he’s been before and what must
come after: the present, what the gospel
calls the kingdom: her lips dusting his earlobe,
whispering, breathing, as if she were chanting
that moment alone: there, there, there.
Luke Johnson is the author of After the Ark (NYQ Books, 2011). His work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Southwest Review, Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. He has twice been featured in the Best New Poets anthology and has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, theAtlantic Monthly, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington.
NOTE: This poem originally appeared in New England Review.
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