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David St. John

David St. John

David St. John is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Study for the World's Body (HarperPerennial, 1994), nominated for the National Book Award in Poetry, and most recently The Face: A Novella in Verse (HarperPerennial, 2005), as well as a volume of essays, interviews, and reviews entitled Where the Angels Come Toward Us (White Pine Press, 1995). He is co-editor, with Cole Swensen, of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (Norton, 2009).

San Joaquin Prisms

L Pistachio

No longer green with envy
I left my home in the valley
& travelled a world beyond any
My family had ever known

& so the prodigal upon return
Seeks comfort in familiar truths
The cracked seeds of possibility
Littering the ground around his feet

& I was no different no wiser
No saner no longer able to hold my own
The terror of losing everything in the world
Except this place to return to

This place of soft emerald shadows
& the limbs of a grove still waiting


II. Fig (Shadows)

It was a little like a doll's house &—for
California—remarkably ancient that clapboard

Shack of a farmhouse & in the tiny upstairs
Bedroom where my two-year-old son slept

I could open the one window onto the second
Story limbs of the fig tree which each spring

Would release its branches all the way
Into the room the magical green & violet fruit

Bobbing above my son's head & the shadows
Of the leaves rippling like river light along the walls

& some days I'd pull up a chair beside the window
Wiping off the stiff skins & slicing with my

Fingernail the fat eggs of fig as the ruby pulp
Pulsed from its swollen lips


Our Questions for Phil
An Interview


Poets in Person:
Philip Levine

Book Review

David Rigsbee reviews
Philip Levine's new book
News of the World