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?