Trust me I’m really trying to pay attention
     but it’s harder every day

& so I begin to trust only in appearances not
     “authenticity”—that half truth—

Growing so precisely redacted it’s even less
     now than what it once seemed

So I can’t help it & maybe I’m doing all right?—
     someone else has to tell me

I spend all my time in meetings & almost none
     with the few people I love

Still my house is beautiful it’s filled with books
     & filled with light & filled too

With eloquent recordings of music at the end
     of the world & also with the grace

Of the woman who’s made this house of paper
     songs & tied my hand-inked messages

With black ribbons to those thin branches
     above the brick walkway

Leading to our door as it’s now the single way
     I’ll actually write to people

& how do I look to you these days?—& really
     who remembers it all as you do?—

& when the night-blooming jasmine smells so
     delicious I love just sitting here

Shredding on Lance’s custom shop Les Paul—
     my vintage Vox amp cranked up

So high no microphone could salvage those lyrics
     of pure human spittle you know

That song I mean the one about all of us—fiercely
     irrelevant & yet so briefly alive

From The Last Troubadour (Ecco Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by David St. John. Used with permission of the author.

O Me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

This poem is in the public domain.

The night turns slowly round,
Swift trains go by in a rush of light;
Slow trains steal past.
This train beats anxiously, outward bound.

But I am not here.
I am away, beyond the scope of this turning;
There, where the pivot is, the axis
Of all this gear.

I, who sit in tears,
I, whose heart is torn with parting;
Who cannot bear to think back to the departure platform;
My spirit hears

Voices of men
Sound of artillery, aeroplanes, presences,
And more than all, the dead-sure silence,
The pivot again.

There, at the axis
Pain, or love, or grief
Sleep on speed; in dead certainty;
Pure relief.

There, at the pivot
Time sleeps again.
No has-been, no here-after; only the perfected
Silence of men.

This poem is in the public domain.