David St. John


Arctic manners serve some of us well by
Which I mean a coolness edging to the predatory

But it's no way to lead a life said my old pal
The albino werewolf as we were out strolling

The lake's lip one evening & I can tell
He's upset so I say Look man you're famous

For doing half the models in the Hamptons
& the Paris/Berlin twins to boot (so to speak) so

Do you mean to tell me there's a heart
Softening in that corpse of ice you carry so elegantly

Along your beautiful thin bones & he seemed
Horrified he might actually be suspected of some

Feeling other than lust but then he smiled & said
Well but now you see I'm lonely as a stone


The split egg of the huge geode no less
Than three feet across & inside the violet

Spires of vibrant light those cubist
Cathedrals of quartz fingers reaching out

For the sure sanctity of a lover's touch
Yet the cool breath of broken mirrors

Assembled into the vision of her own face
Broken into slivers of amethyst still

Held her to the terror she carried beyond
His departure his last evening at the motel

With the rubber hose tied off around
His arm & the needle spinning in his flesh

Like the true point of a sad compass
As the lips grew blue & then rose & blue


In the endless blocks of dulled-blood
Brick rowhouses surrounding the few hills
Leading to the Baltimore Museum at the edge

Of Charles Village where the secrets of Hampton

Filtered through the legacies of families departed
Out of their Appalachian pasts some of them starch eaters
& some junkies with some posing for the one

Neighborhood pornographer the money they made

Just enough to keep their mother in smack
A few more weeks then the cops came for
All of them & the dumb porches & the narrow stairways

& the closeness of people piled up on top of one another
In the summers as the Bay seasoning & red cayenne pepper

Boiled the crabs the buttery color of brick.

David St. John was born in Fresno, California, in 1949, and educated at California State University, Fresno, where he received his B.A. In 1974, he received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He is the author of many books of poetry, including Hush (1976), No Heaven (1985), and Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems (1994). His awards include the Discover/The Nation prize, the James D. Phelan Prize, and the Prix de Rome fellowship in literature. He has also received several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. St. John currently teaches in the English Department at University of Southern California, Los Angeles. His most recent books are The Red Leaves of Night (1999) and In the Pines: Lost Poems 1972-1997 (1999).


Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at 

send comments to info@poetrybay.com

first electronic copyright 2004 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to dpb@islandguide.com