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David St. John

David St. John

David St. John is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Study for the World's Body (HarperPerennial, 1994), nominated for the National Book Award in Poetry, and most recently The Auroras (HarperCollins, 2012), 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 of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (Norton, 2009).


The ledger opened in rain. As always, for her,
The ink of the past ran together into the ink of the present.

Scotch Montana had undressed in Ohio, still a skinny girl.

Now, after 30 years—divorce, failure as an actor,
Panic attacks on the freeway, the flesh gathering
Around her . . . she undressed, naked as Narcissus
In her desire, in the vortex of her self-regard,
Twirling those rags of her pain:

The mother she hated, no, the mother, she said, who hated
her—the father, the brothers, the land. . .

She'd emerged from her past with no one, but with books,
Gorgeous books, accounts (both acute and accurate) of
Her passage through men—many men—poets, designers,
Friends, & also those few women.

If he asked her to marry him at 9 A.M. she would
Marry him at 9:01. Devoted to the dream of them. Domestic,
& covered with plaid shirts & campfires, with pines
& conifers covered in snow, the branches littered by light.

He was never there every moment he was there. It was love
Of something, & not in. She wanted anything, anything.

He was always never there, always leaving, always
Returning for only a moment of nothing, she saw,
Nothing in the end. That's what she had. Not even the land.


Poets in Person:
Gregory Orr


Molly Peacock
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Thomas Lux
Nullius in Verba