Three Poems

By Jason Irwin

Poem for Gerry or, the Poet Goes Walking in His Backyard 

The Jays & Wrens sing his legend.     
The furry creatures call him saint, moonstruck 
uncle. He Who Dresses like a Windy Day, 
while the gnomes cast eyes of caution 
whenever he moves through the tall grass, 
murmuring his strange benedictions,  
his elegies to ribwort & tree bark. 
Each night they watch as he recedes  
like the sun, behind the doors of his domicile. 
Each morning they gather like soporific pilgrims  
waiting for him to come forth. 
Early Morning in the Old Town 
                     for August Kleinzahler 
 The 5am west-bound CSX rattles the loose-fitting panes.   
The cries and giggles of three Puerto Rican girls   
walking to school echo between apartment buildings   
& Chestnut trees. On the corner of 6th & Main   
Mr. Nasca croons All of me, why not take all of me,   
as he sweeps the sidewalk in front of the convenience store   
he's owned since time began. The entire town -- derelict & crumbling,   
yawns beneath a smoke-gray sky, while the aroma  
a fresh-brewed coffee wakes me & I rub my eyes  
to find my mother, still in her nightgown, standing on the balcony,  
staring out into the distance, as a shard of sunlight  
                                                           rests on the swollen knuckles  
of her left hand like an injured bird.  
             I've become a stranger here, just another vaguely familiar forehead  
passing through, trying to recapture some lost part of himself –  
an expression, or feeling trapped between tibula & funny bone, breath 
on glass. Something I can call my own. 
Sometimes We Wake Transformed  
In the ancient courts, generations of Henrys  
proclaimed: “We are the center of the universe.”  
Yet the moon people have moved among us  
since Noah’s time. Experts in camouflage,  
their lunar citadels look like nothing more  
than sky. And the sun,  
                      the sun is just a love-starved girl,  
dancing among the clover and dandelion fields.  
                     Sometimes we wake transformed 
into driftwood washed ashore. We wait for hours,   
weeks even, for someone to rescue us – 
a college professor, or old poet like Robert Bly, 
someone to carry us home & polish us into walking sticks
or eccentric sculptures to stand alongside 
dusty tomes on Norse mythology & geometry, mint tins   
from St Gallen & Tangier.


Jason Irwin

Jason Irwin is the author of the three collections of poetry: The History of Our Vagrancies (Main Street Rag), A Blister of Stars (Low Ghost, 2016), Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), & the chapbook Some Days It's A Love Story (Slipstream Press, 2005). He has also had nonfiction published in IO Literary Journal, Cleaver Magazine, & The Crux. He grew up in Dunkirk, NY, and now lives in Pittsburgh.

Karen Green

Karen Green is an artist and writer whose inventive hybrid image-text works have won her a devoted readership. She's the author of Bough Down (Siglio, 2013), winner of the Believer Poetry Award, and the fictional archive of a missing woman, Frail Sister (Siglio, 2018), a finalist for the California Book Award. Her visual work is collected by individuals as well as institutions, including the Yale Beinecke Library, San Francisco MOMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She lives in Northern California, and New York.