Four Poems by John Sullivan

Our Moments Clang

against each other,
clang & clang & fume
against the goad,
against the pain.
We shake it on up,
we boogie hard, like
end-a’-daze angels,
we boogie down
blind, all night long
despite the looming:
there’s always places
to go, places for being,
there’s always work
songs for singing
& our hearts, too,
need brave music,
as our moments clang
against each other,
clang & clang & fume
down any road, dressed
up to kill, stained
blood-red, always-
always ringing
in our ears.
Wounded shadows
of our singing

Angel of the Landfill

Origin is what this new angel seeks,
clawing through garbage for the
essence of what-hovers-over, the
germ-line of all storms.

Describing nothing, doing only
that action – playing strict to her
life, as chosen, maybe
just ordained.

She stops flat, frozen, smells
reek all around, rubs the faded
nubs just below her shoulders,
and asks the sky:

What have I traded my feet for?

Bird of Paradise

A Sufi, wigged and stiff inside
his unbroken dream, wakes up one
night and screams: Hey, we’re all
stuck inside this same fat dream.

The world is a chest, we’re
locked down inside. See:
the lid is shut, it’s so dark,
and we give ourselves over
to scuffle, and to tears.
We allow: Go Crazy.

But if we give it over, instead,
to: “be notorious,” to swim against
that hard-chaw stream of plasma
wind whooshing off the sun, to go
peek-a-boo behind the moon, to
scream with joy inside the mad whorl

of a wild-wild river, if we unfurl before
the lid cracks, make a wing grow,
then another, if we groove the way
our first heart works its own pulse,
and same way shatter the grain of
the groove with the hammer of a

prayer of our own attention,
then: when death lifts the lid,
the ones with wings accelerate
and strobe, blow past this Zion
for, yet, at least, another Zion.

The ones without wings stay
locked inside the chest.

First Contact?

point of first contact: a parking garage, well-lit,
clean-to-the-core, so much unlike home, a shiny
zone of creature comforts for whole congregations
of Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Tesla, turbo-this / turbo-that,
(perhaps) an occasional Lamborghini, and more

we don’t belong here but still must slog
through this terra incognita toward
our own low-slung, dogtown car-car.

then, we all hear it: plain and easy roll of rubber wheels
on concrete surface, smooth as frosting – closer
yet, it gets, that sound, until – mirabile dictu! –
it’s on us (perhaps): an R2D2-looking free-range droid
in patrol mode turns a corner, moves on from us
in parallel to us -like an invitation (perhaps) to play
or what?

and so, game on: I approach the droid

ignoring my cobbers and my own
internal self-improvement tape: “don’t you mess” –
I hear it say – “too much with what you do not know.”

the droid stops, its servos whir, its top
gently pivots on its middle

did I snag on a trip wire, tip off its perimeter defense net:
or what?

it moves closer to me, closer yet, then stops, again,
and stands right there: stolid, immobile, inward-looking,
or seeming-so, at least, (perhaps) even scheming-so?

Brother Droid – so I’m calling you –
or are you, indeed, my Sister?
Or both of you, together, all-at-once (perhaps)?
Or even something more I haven’t yet imagined?

Based on a Mullah Nasruddin Sufi tale

© 2019, John Sullivan 

JOHN SULLIVAN was an American College Theatre Festival Playwriting regional finalist, received the ‘Jack Kerouac Literary Prize,’ ‘Writers Voice: New Voices of the West’ award, AZ Arts Fellowships (Poetry & Playwriting), Artists Studio Center Fellowship, WESTAF Fellowship, was a featured playwright at Denver’s Changing Scene Summer Play (Changing Scene Theatre), and an Eco-Arts Performance Fellow from Earth Matters On Stage / University of Oregon. He was Artistic/Producing Director of Theater Degree Zero, and directed the Augusto Boal / Theatre of the Oppressed focused applied theatre wing at Seattle Public Theater. 

His work has been published in a variety of print and online venues including: Hayden’s Ferry Review, Black Bear Review, Argy-Bargy, Prose Kitchen, California Quarterly, The Lucid Stone, Oddball, OVS, Scarlet Leaf Review, Steel Toe Review, Squawk Back, Razor: a Literary Magazine, The BeZinePudding Magazine, Birds Piled LooselyMadness Muse PressHarbinger Asylum, Anti-Heroin ChicTumblewords: Writers Reading the West. John’s latest book, Bye-Bye No Fly Zone,has just been published by Weasel Press (Houston TX).


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