John Amen


I emerge,
the black widow on my shoulder.

Where is my father?
Where is someone who will walk
through the river's bed barefoot?
Hold a hornet in the palm of his hand?
In the valley, horses are stampeding into barbed wire.
My tongue has been turned to paper
upon which a great lie is written.
We must try traveling together
to where the compass goes blind,
you with your rags, I with my dry bones;
when night forms like a scab,
lie in brambles singing cold, sober songs,
memorizing the faces of our fear.
I will celebrate your story.

You must celebrate mine

John Amen's poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications, including The Adirondack Review, The Melic Review, Disquieting Muses, Thunder Sandwich, The Charlotte Observer, 2River View, Wilmington Blues, Stirring Magazine, Twilight Times, and Sanskrit. Amen has toured extensively as a performing musician, both as a solo act and with a band, and has released three full-length recordings, Wild but Willing, Eat Mine, and Four Forty Four. He is editor in chief of the literary bimonthly The Pedestal Magazine, the URL of which is


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