John McKernan

On the Green Board

In yel­low chalk
One of my stu­dents wrote a poem


I don’t care any­thing about their poem
Maybe I should squirt some rhyme &
Meter in so I can care even less
Truly I’d rather be any­where else

Than near these lines
Maybe Having sex with Ginger Lynn or
Riding my new October Harley
Around the rain-slick leaf-lay­ered
Gorgeous curves of West Virginia


The Satan I Know

Has three vagi­nas &
Four penis­es

He likes us all
He waves us on to exhaus­tion
He wants us to find new microbes

And cheers espe­cial­ly
For the sex­less
Who own only their last breaths
And dress in moth-eat­en prayer shawls

So they resem­ble
The shad­ows
Beneath fresh corpses
Happy to be on a crash diet
At the big birth­day par­ty in the rear-view mir­ror


Our Friends Die

Most of our ene­mies
Keep on breath­ing

Whose fault is it
The Light
The Shadow

Should we blame
The sun
And say its light
Goes on for­ev­er cre­at­ing new shad­ows

At last I can pro­vide
An answer
All my high school coach­es
Have final­ly
Been buried under­ground

A few of my old bud­dies remain
They keep ask­ing
Anyone who will lis­ten
Even the Pope
Are they real­ly dead
How did they know



I am sor­ry sir    We don’t know exact­ly what
hap­pened Strange it is the child named Jack
with brown hair and brown eyes dis­ap­peared
He was play­ing right over there    On the curb
In the gut­ter if you will    I thought I saw was
a can­dy wrap­per there a moment ago    It’s so
windy in this part of the park at times    I am
sure that child was car­ry­ing sev­er­al items    I
think A small plas­tic boat A gyro­scope and a
com­pass    He seemed abstract­ed    Those toys
were absorb­ing all his atten­tion    Then he was


Refilling the Shells for Skeet Practice

Quarter-inch buck­shot
To cre­ate an absence in the air

As I fill
This tree-green
Shells full

Letters form below
On white paper
Mainly O’s
Some Y’s

If I traced let­ters
In the pow­der below
Would it bear the sound of my name
Which part of myself Brain or Heart
Would I care­ful­ly aim at?