John W. Evans



But Enkidu opened his mouth and said, ‘I am weak, my arms have lost their
strength, the cry of sorrow sticks in my throat, I am oppressed by idleness.


Old Spice smells like cedar and wild bees.
Old wood never smells like trees.
Old men romp the shape
to hard sugar, score the nape,
then scour their palms in the cold seas.

Whatever you take, please
him. He serves my heart. You frieze
first man in chin a crepe
of cedar, spice, and wild bees.

No ape would praise creation on clean knees,
though your prayer might ease
such incidental stings and near-escapes.
Roll back the ticker. Seal the tape.
I was man before I learned to name these
cedars, spices and wild bees.



I snap trunks, scrap cities, pound beers.
I best men half my years
and twice as big. What virtue astounds
my big heart? I bound
my gypsies in wolf and camel hairs.

I lament my dead with real man-tears.
My sorrow settles all fears.
The gods make light this head they’ve crowned.
I snap trunks, scrap cities, pound beers.

I am unchanged, year to year.
The woods sway. The earth appears
where sea and sky cannot round
the heavens. We best again the immortal hound.
My best friend disappears.
I snap trunks, scrap cities, pound beers.



My grocery cactus leans against the glass,
eager for morning, green as old brass,
certain of the coming light.
Impatient with the slow night,
dim bulbs, and Robert Hass,

the floorboards whine, soft as grass.
All the new thinking is about loss.
My neighbor pulls his shade low and tight.
My grocery cactus leans against the glass.

On 18th Street, night joggers pass and pass,
pious as the Easter Vigil Mass.
Hearty and bright
revelers wobble their top-heavy delight.
The urban air sweetens like cut grass.
My grocery cactus leans against the glass.


JOHN W. EVANS is the author of the memoir, Young Widower (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), winner of the 2013 River Teeth Book Prize, and the poetry chapbooks, No Season (FWQ, 2011) and Zugzwang (RockSaw, 2009). His poems have appeared in Slate, The Missouri Review, Boston Review, The Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, ZYZZYVA, and Poetry Daily. He received a Stegner Fellowship in poetry from Stanford University, where he currently teaches creative writing.


Read more work by John W. Evans:

Author’s Website
Digital chapbook: No Season
Essay in The Rumpus
Seven poems in The Missouri Review
Two poems at Poetry Daily