John Allman

Burying St. Joseph in the Front Yard


Jerusalem, Egypt, Nazareth,

he got around—widower whose

walking staff burst into flower.

If you want to sell your house,

just dig deep enough to cover

the statue’s ridged hair, his wide-

open eyes facing the road, all his

patient glance open in particulates

and sunken dung (don’t be fooled

by mere grit or the broken handle

of a child’s shovel, the abandoned

dig, the half-hearted hunger, because

this Joseph he sees through the liars

who can’t get a mortgage or a decent

car for such a fine garage). He favors

engineers, craftsmen, men with

knowledgeable hands. He enjoys

women who say no, who will wear

widow’s weeds like a new fashion

in the condemned streets, the ripped

twilight. He wants you to sell.

He wants a family on the move, a

rocking motion beneath all of you

as rivers recede, the sun rises on the

wrong side of the sky. All that you have,

all that you bring away he will gladly

promise to the new owners, once they

dig him up, once they fill in the hole and

pat down the surface where he celebrated

expectant mothers like the celibate he was.



The Performance Pavilion


Forty degrees. We’re doing Qigong

on a platform with a roof to protect us

seniors bundled in sweaters or coats,

long gray scarves, some of us in hats,

earmuffs, gloves. Don’t forget idiopathic

lung disease, diabetes, bent spines, or the

huge abdomen of the man from Pittsburgh.

All of us following the moves of Colon,

today’s leader, our arms expanding to

embrace the world’s Qi, our breathing

a mystic fume coursing through bone

and the mind’s flesh, this idea of movement

without purpose or destination, though

thought continues to flow without words

for what is there to feel or know except

breathing, except flowing, except one-

ness, the chatter of daily debris disappearing

down the invisible drain, where we empty

ourselves, where the dullness of names becomes

a clarity behind the eyes. And what we see

is what we drink of nothingness, all this

within Colon’s soft voice and slightly

lifted arms, his syllables like transparent

leaves. Like growth and breeze. Like arrival.

John Allman is the author of ­­many books of poems and stories, including A Fine Romance (Quale Press, 2015), Algorithms (Quale Press, 2012), Lowcountry (New Directions, 2007), Loews Triboro (New Directions, 2004), Inhabited World (Wallace Stevens Society Press, 1995), Descending Fire & Other Stories (New Directions, 1994), Curve Away from Stillness (New Directions, 1989), Scenarios for a Mixed Landscape (New Directions, 1986), Clio's Children (New Directions, 1985), Walking Fours Ways in the Wind (Princeton University Press, 1979). Allman is a two-time recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pushcart Prize winner in Poetry. His stories, poems, and essays have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Yale Review, The Massachusetts Review, New York Quarterly, Hotel America, 5am, and FutureCycle, among others



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