ADR ADVISOR/POETRY EDITOR John C. Mannone has poems appearing/accepted in the 2020 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, North Dakota Quarterly, The Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. His poetry won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest (2020). He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His latest of three collections, Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry, is forthcoming from Linnet’s Wings Press (2020). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination, as well as being a contributing poetry editor for ADR and a physics professor.
My brothers—one shaped into chariot wheels, the other, into an expansive bed for a king—had it good. I’ve been rough-cut and split into two. God knows where I am being taken to now. My leg drags through camel dung, my arms straddle a broad-shouldered peasant cloaked in dirt-brown tatters. Sweat on his brow. A noisy crowd follows me to a barren hill outside of town. They throw me to the ground; lash a man to me, whose face is so marred I cannot tell who he is, but thorns crowning his head scratch me. I feel his blood. Lots of blood as the Romans nail his flesh to mine; hoist us high as one—each of us a cross to bear the other’s weight. It grieves me to hurt this man who won’t speak one word of guile as he hangs broken; I am washed in his blood. After many hours, he struggles to speak…It is finished.Continue reading From a Long Line of Trees by John C. Mannone→
This small whelk once held
an ocean in its chambers
before that same sea
battered down its walls
the occupant, long ago
gone, only its ghost haunts
the emptiness, the shell
lying on the shore shows
its whorls, jaggedness
smoothed with polish
of time. Morning glistens
inside the glossy pearl
white—all that is left
of its soul.
Image credit: The sea-worn whelk, collected by Finn Bille on Sanibel Island, FL, and photographed & post-processed using Toolwiz Photos with Prismart filter and with a Van Gogh effect by John C. Mannone.
My brothers—one shaped into chariot wheels, the other, into an expansive bed for a king—had it good. I’ve been rough-cut and split into two. God knows where I am being taken to now. My leg drags through camel dung, my arms straddle a broad-shouldered peasant cloaked in dirt-brown tatters. Sweat on his brow. A noisy crowd follows me to a barren hill outside of town. They throw me to the ground; lash a man to me, whose face is so marred I cannot tell who he is, but thorns crowning his head scratch me. I feel his blood. Lots of blood as the Romans nail his flesh to mine; hoist us high as one—each of us a cross to bear the other’s weight. It grieves me to hurt this man who won’t speak one word of guile as he hangs broken; I am washed in his blood. After many hours, he struggles to speak…It is finished.
When I hear those words, I recall my father’s story still resounding through the ages. My father, when he cradled a most precious baby, spoke of a gentle old carpenter from Nazareth, who had fashioned a manger from the same stock that I came from—strong acacia wood planed smooth until soft enough for the king of kings. When the carpenter was done, he cried out with great pride to his wife, Mary, Bring me our son. It is finished. It is finished… It is finished!
Five Children on a Boat off Dauphin Island, Alabama
They say five is a figure of grace
and these children are a testimony
to that. Boisterous laughter fills
the air, drowns the squawks of sea
gulls that some of them imitate:
the swoop and hover, the taunt and
impatience for food thrown off
the stern by people in the bay-bound
boat in Alabama waters. They follow
us from shore wanting more bread,
fresh or stale, it doesn’t matter, they
are happy and unashamed to beg
food from us. We humor them,
mimicking their cries, which often
sound more like laughter.
Every 22nd of April, meteor showers out of the
constellation Lyra sometimes occur on Passover.
Vega, the brightest star in the constellation,
in Arabic means, He shall be exalted.
Before the light of creation would rise
above the horizon, shooting stars streaked
across the Passover skies over Jerusalem.
Nighthawks folded their wings, fell silent.
In unison, the olive trees stretched
their crooked branches, jabbed the dawning
sky swabbed purple & crimson. The umber
silhouette of trees, in the same silence.
A voice cried out from the wilderness
inside the holy man kneeling there, the weight of all
the children’s dreams, his brothers’ and the world’s
sin heavy on his heart. Blood seeped through,
through his pores as he languished in prayer,
fallen on his face, the taste of dirt on his lips: Father. Please let this cup of bitterness pass!
However, not my will but yours be done.
An angel might have lifted him up, wiped his tears,
and offered cool water from the clear brook,
before fading. His close friends were still lost
in their dreams, fast asleep on the lavender grass.
A serpent slithered on the rocks with stardust
glow, coiled its leathery skin shining like jewels,
then raised its diamond head, fake smile; rattled
a hiss of lies; fangs exposed ready to strike.
But the holy one only felt the kiss of a soft wind
…before Judas came.
Image credit: Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) April 24, 2014: Lyrids in Southern Skies, Yuri Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution)
Author’s Comments: The Lyrid meteor shower occurs as Earth goes through Comet Thatcher’s debris around April 22 each year, which means that sometimes the Lyrid meteor shower occurs on or around Passover. The showers are generally moderately weak (15-20/hr) but periodically Earth intersects denser portions of the cloud, and the sky can become brilliant with meteors that seem to come out of the constellation Lyra (90-100/hr). This occurs every 60 years when the other planets steer thicker parts of the dust cloud into Earth’s path. But the showers are greatly enhanced when the comet returns every 415 years and re-seeds the comet dust clouds, as in 1803 (700/hr) and in 687 BC as Zuo Zhuan had written “stars fell like rain.” Beginning with 687 BC as a reasonable starting point and stepping forward every 60 years, we learn that an enhanced Lyrid meteor shower could have occurred during the Passover in 33 AD, the possible date for Christ’s crucifixion.