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From the Archives: Four Poems, by John Schertzer

Happy birthday, John Schertzer! Celebrate by reading these Schertzer poems we published in 2021!


Diagram C

The sun opens its mouth over the bridge
And warms the eastern sky above
The ocean, which is mottled from
Talking to itself so much while we slept,

Though this is only a way of speaking.
The sun opens up in physical moments
Through sensory mechanics congealed
And overfed, the eastern sky over

Memory and its way of saying
And arranging. And to talk about how
It is always an opera, monkey singing
Reason as another monkey song

Talking to itself so much while we slept
Filling form with hums and squawks
While I was trying to say, he was trying
To say what I set out to say without

Digression, analogy; but even setting out
Is the sky over the ocean, and the unknown
Stepping out to tease the unthought out
Of the other, the thing recorded or wrought

Only accidentally may chance to notice
Something in the invented record of what.


Diagram D

The running: whatever it may provide,
it stands in question,
may invent and venture,
learning under catastrophic
what in times the shallow pools

Reflected upward,
having in itself no light and no question,
spanning pages,
lines appear, and unevenly there are lakes upon

The world it sees,
and entanglements
spanning questions meant as mist.

What about this reflex of the door open to silence
and projection, to science
of these bar chords
and their bite,
what about violins at pavilions,

Unsheathed layers of the mouth without a voice
considered the something or other
pushing pins in its balloons?

Pins into these seconds are tones striking

One eye at a time, blurred to watch what lines
will help or survive
crystalline operations of dreamwork.

And sleep them into tools,

Mouthfuls of sameness alive and vociferous forest,
the trees warm coil,
what may or not hope or believe.


Diagram F

Off to work and there he finds a mouth
Of stone filled with cigarette butts

And cracked teeth, dead roaches,
And old shoes, lottery tickets, papers

Stuffed in an envelope covered
By stanzas, diagrams

Of organ experience, the way
The body may have functioned

Under other evolutions.
The mouth is silent but hears its

Agonizing in the negative range
Below the line in the darkness of sound.

And it is toward the resolution
Of that song that it works in sparks.


Diagram G

Is it possible to be a better sample?
Is it something one should attend to?
Organizations exist, supporting varieties of growth
spiritual or neuro-physical modalities
though deflation’s float parades in full regalia
crying for a breath mint. More to overcome
than these rigged up pinions coalescing
chemistry and symbology, never meeting
but fondling each other’s work with rubber gloves,

This region of tiniest knowledge
forcing a smile after you praise Jove,
bring the warmth to your chest; we are both
missing something, what you call miraculous,
perhaps system dynamics, but neither
clues further interrogation of phenomena,
will only cause more movies to be made,

Hammered together with rifle and pile driver.
Choose your weapons. Next space flight
is affordable real estate, onto your sidewalk,
the Times to your doorstep. Cover photos tip
dozens of rare flowers to soften the lost,
invented another day and its contingencies,

A textile woven in the dark: each flash points out
another pattern in its weave, until even
the eye mistrusts and wishes it could sing
the breath’s wishes it could hear. Together
they body and form sentences, analyze
and paint, or is that the minerals themselves
deposited on the walls of the old canal?


  • John Schertzer is the author of Bellamonia. His poems have been published in Big Other, Inverted Syntax, The Germ, American Letters & Commentary, 1913 Journal, The Cortland Review, La Petite Zine, Danse Macabre, LIT, and other journals.

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