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Poetry

Johnstown

by Barrett Warner


    No matter where the storm,
    its rains--the rising waters,
    the rocks painted with sulfur--
    always discover this place,
    a pool, a bigness,
    the lowest point for miles.

    At the only bar forever
    men leave their kills at the door,
    laid out like poems in a book of prose,
    their shapes surprising the mind,
    a pride etched with sadness,
    memories of an impossible woman.
    Did you see it? Did you hear it?
    Hooves cantering behind the brush,
    stones falling away from the old mill,
    a rumbling, a groan of outcrops,
    a love making of jasper, feldspar,
    black basalt, the oldest flints.

    The dams gave out long ago,
    shoulders against the floods,
    elsewhere something happens
    to a mountain stripped of ores
    like an angel robbed of its soul.
    One feels grateful at seeing
    anything fly, anything run
    even if only to take it down,
    a bituminous venison, a song.

    The way she said good bye
    without saying when she'd be back.

 

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