Poetry: John C. Mannone

Water Cycle: John C. Mannone

When hope evaporates
from the ocean, and lofts
high into cold dry stratus,
a canopy of clouds hovering
over land like sadness
draping the heart, the sea
will also give up its prayers
to the sky.

There’s always a gathering
of storms before the deluge
of pain, but a fresh rain also
from the same place comes
to wash it away—

at first in trickles and rivulets,
then the swelling into creeks,
the flowing as mighty rivers
from the watershed.

Eventually, all things return
to the sea, tears dissolving
into prayers.

After the Fight

then comes forgiveness. We kissed
while rolling in wild grass, dirt on our lips,
smiles cracking through our solemn
faces, but it would never be the same.

We camped near the rhododendron
above the red clay banks of the swift river,
leaves from sycamore and willow shed
as beautiful tears, fell curled, catching
wind like the sails before drifting
into the autumn-dark waters below—
once clear as spring runoff that lushed
our verdant garden.

The waters whispered regret. But sought
the gold and pearl shimmers of the sun
sparkling the water crests fragranced
with spices of the fall.

We will have to learn how to trust
again. When she gave me the apple-
sweetness of the lie, I should not have
eaten it. I should have listened
to the voice inside when it whispered
Do not even touch it.

Pretty Things

My friend said to write
about beautiful things
         like nature or history

because it upset him when
I wrote something disturbing
            about perversity

in the men’s bathroom—a drug
deal gone bad, and dirty sex.

I thought about it long and
well, until I went soft with doubt.
            Nature is serene,

like history, full of wonderful
ingenuity and invention,
            honey sunlight, gentle rain,

glorious rainbows, the sweet green
smell of grass, the beautiful

hatred and murder and war
and everything good
            and bad about mankind.

My friend said to write
about beautiful things. I cannot
            therefore end this poem yet.

The Bible speaks of pretty things
and not to dwell on the ugly, only

on the lovely. So I focus
on the rough-cut cross
            of locust wood:

there is no better instrument
of extravagant love.

Colors of Your Voice

Is a quiet black hiss opposite
of white noise? Are there gray
shades to silence? I can’t hear
the dark shimmer, only feel it
pulse through my ears.
            I am deaf
to the colors of your voice
but sense your heart speak,
I see your hands move air
and moments earlier my breath
            as you sign.
There is no purple in the way
you fold your two fingers
into the palm of your hand,
the other three left erect
pointing at me. Those words
are pure red—the color of
            silence is loud.

All the Starlight in the Universe

New Calculation Adds Up All the Starlight in the Universe: “That’s the total number of photons that have successfully escaped from stars and the dust that surrounds them into space over the history of the universe” by Meghan Bartels, Space.com Senior Writer November 29, 2018

As far as I’m concerned, all the starlight
in my universe emanates from your eyes.
Perhaps as a physicist I could do better
than to describe you with such clichés

but do not be deceived or even slightly
confused, sometimes the best way to say
something profound is with the simplest
words, well-worn, but whose meaning

doesn’t change on either end of the cosmos.
To say you’re ‘out of this world’ makes you
a stranger in a strange land, but you are
no stranger to me, you’re no alien

despite the sparkle in your bewitching
eyes. That stardust strewn in your irises
is the maker of fires, new seething suns
at the very core of my emblazoned heart

whenever I am held in captive gaze,
whenever there is passionate fusion
of our lips, whenever that critical mass
is exceeded by the mere touch of your

John C. Mannone has poetry in Artemis Journal, Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene’s Fountain, and others. He’s a Jean Ritchie Fellowship winner in Appalachian literature (2017) and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He has three poetry collections, including Flux Lines (forthcoming in 2019). He’s been nominated for Pushcart and other awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & ApexSilver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He’s a retired physics professor living between Knoxville and Chattanooga, TN. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

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