John Allen Taylor


       for Olivia

Do you still have the jelly jars of river rock
stacked in sun beams on your window sill—
remember the afternoon knee-deep
in the Little Spokane doing sun-salutation,
two mallards afloat on the dark
green river? We stood on the bank.
It’s not that I felt more alive than I do now,
sitting here in Pino’s Pizzeria during Boston’s
cruelest winter. Icicles the width of me.
Snow drifts the height of me.
Wind finishing the blind work of erasure.
It’s only that I felt more capable of it. Sun-salutation.
This is not a winter or a summer poem.
This can’t be a love poem. This is your silhouette,
seven weeks since your last letter,
your aspen laugh your smoke your sweat.
This is our eclipse. I look around
at the other faces moored at Pino’s late
on this February night. It’s comforting
to be among these faces, my strangers,
to be a regular in the worst square in Boston.
I wonder about the man sitting across from me,
whose bed he thinks of when he finds himself
alone, above cold diner coffee. Whose touch
is tobacco and home. Whose laugh his joy?


               You say you’ll be gentle
because I’ve told you how he touched me, told you
he whispered and shushed me when I was small,
when I believed his everything will be okay.

               I have no use for your careful touch,
your asking permission. Hide me
inanimate between your timid legs.
Darling, bury me pelvis to pelvis deep.

              Let’s call this love. Imagine
this will save me. Your everything will be…
Let’s pretend your wet hand on my temple
will unclench my jaw.


John Allen Taylor’s
poems have appeared in Booth, Dialogist, Devil’s Lake, The Cresset, and an anthology of Spokane, WA poets called Railtown Almanac. He currently lives in Boston, MA and serves as Redivider’s poetry editor. He makes strong, bitter kombucha. His website is