The Works of John McKernan

John McKernan is now a retired professor who used to conduct seminars on Electricity and Punctuation. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust.

All Poems © John McKernan

I Can Make a Goldfish Talk

Two sprinkles of dried insect

One shake of slivered worms

Pet a cat

So the purr

Sounds like French

Give me a homeless mutt

I’ll have it baying

At a full moon

By midnight

I’m always in training

To drag my soul

From its dungeon

To hear its stories of light

Whispered in sign language

I Like To Visit

That cemetery at midnight
In the middle of winter

During a snow storm
The vowels & consonants
Of the wind driving North

Off to the right
A traffic light clicks on
& off to make everything
One moment red   The next green

Red is easy to understand
The green’s to suggest   I guess   Spring
Its flowers & the smell of clover
Help us forget the shadows lying there packed
In the bleached sundials of their skulls

I Want 

To read sundials at midnight

In a perfume of orange vodka


To read a front page story

Unicorn & Phoenix

Grilled by lightning


To turn the hour hands back

To break the second hands off

To never answer that phone

To hear those words in Braille

To read my brother’s name

His overdue bill from Harley Davidson

His shredded speeding ticket

His jottings for some guitar music

Not this obituary in this wretched paper

My Plan for Wool Clothing -- Parka and Gloves and Snow Shoes Unfreezable Tubes of Color to Paint January in North Canada


To capture a crow

Against a snow drift


To hide

The black & blue shadows of an igloo

Inside a snowball the size of the Eiffel Tower


To blend

The tears of the caribou

Onto the surface

Of a mile-wide lake


To bury

Every wheat kernel

Every grain of barley

Beneath a twelve-day cloud

Of ice & snow & hail


Art should have an agenda

A social purpose even

To show us how

Nature hates every human

Especially our inner feelings

Not just the frozen thumbs