John Amen

retirement home

we pack & unpack boxes
staving off the teeth in the silence
our shelves lined with family photos & bric-a-brac
there’s always a meeting you better not miss

who we are when alone I say
should be the subject of our mockumentary
the dance teacher pantomiming with broken glass
the palsied surgeon flogging his memoir

I’m told this is the best deal in town
so why is the taxman’s injunction still hanging
like a price tag from the third eye of our mannequin christ?
did we have a falling-out with the intercessor?
all because we panned his original thesis?

shrinking giants inventory their bruises
other bumbling curmudgeons analyze in detail
how they’ve been tricked by dirt & sky

you have to admit it’s odd the way we wring our music
makes me wonder if the scream in the night is a test
—our boundaries are made of fever


for WB

you leave the party to buy a cake
returning three days later with an iguana
asked where you were
you describe the persuasive clouds
how a team of god’s horses
dragged you through the badlands
you wandered until you found the slacker king

the appointments & diagnoses resume
men in white mumbling to their clipboards
prescriptions regarding electricity & sleep
friends wonder why you don’t lobby for yrself
one of those who’s touched the sun
but can’t carry his own silence

last time we talked
I saw deadbolts turning in yr eyes
from light years away you demanded
we change our passwords & phone numbers
new information had been engraved
on the inside of yr skull
if I could translate it our only defense
might keep the darkness at bay

John Amen is the author of four collections of poetry: Christening the Dancer, More of Me Disappears, At the Threshold of Alchemy, and The New Arcana (a multi-genre collaborative work co-written with Daniel Y. Harris). His work has appeared in numerous journals nationally and internationally and been translated into Spanish, French, Hungarian, Korean, and Hebrew. He founded and continues to edit The Pedestal Magazine.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.