John Fry

John Fry is the author of the chapbook silt will swirl (NewBorder). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Boxcar Poetry Review, alice blue, Free Verse, Bellingham Review, Pebble Lake Review, and Konundrum Engine Literary Review, among others. A graduate of the MFA program at Texas State University-San Marcos, he edits poetry for Newfound and lives in the Texas Hill Country.

soul, paraphrased

I have forgotten what I wanted to say—


prayer’s tarnished
chalice couldn’t hold

spill, sky:


(not that sorry was
red and sorrow, blue)


—but I have forgotten what I wanted to say

something understood—


the waterwheel is still
waiting for river’s song:

after fireweed blighted the wheat

field long fallow, whisper
sunrise, touch me:

tendril, leaf be green:

there are four angels standing at the four corners of the earth

sometimes our hearts are animals

I cradled the cinders
by the waters of Big Joshua Creek

both hands, barely alight, what had

been my mind:      I’d heard
he was one of those boys

who air out their insides on windowsills


it had something to do with religion

every full moon, a choir of elderly monks
singing tone-deaf liturgies for each hour

for the virgin hair daily set on fire

inside the almost-ivory chapel,
my ribs an empty sparrow’s cage

“had you not followed the vatic


your face,” he’d said, “would have been

of brilliant countenance”:       lithographic
landscape beyond the forgotten

ocean of the innermost ear

where one boy, with a wolf for a heart, wants
to eat the songbird nesting inside the other

it had something to do with religion


when I tried to tell you every day’s a seraph’s four faces watching over

boy/bird       wolf/boy
you brought me the blessed earthenware

cup of winter spiked with nettles & nard

& not even the star dying in my mouth could
dull the bright draught’s ashen rime

every time you wish the sky was something happening to your heart

as if it had something to do with
religion:       spirit in the wheel
of cattle egrets spun
out of the scorched field
lonely for livestock, again alfalfa
eyes yet asleep,
moon become saltpan &
as if the gloaming welled out of

hallowed ground       I will not let thee go

Jacob’s pillow       except thou

white feather ladder       bless me