Poetry: St. John’s Road by Donald Berger


Photo by Peter Berger

A small boar turf war, a small bee playing with the bottom of the table,
some really small wind, and forty, fifty stages of green.
O I’ll be back as soon as I get that pancake, the spicey one with kim chi in it,
the thing that makes you feel.

Dave sticks his car’s nose into the driveway,
Fresh on the Move in truck form pulls around,
shade right with almost two people out.
Religiously I swing
the club through I think a boy’s voice
over the water.

You don’t want to overwater
and could hear the bird swerve
before the walker said “in a little while.”
Have that mentality where almost no leaves,
the click on a dog’s leash move
the baby swinging off the side of the father’s chest.
The bicycle sounding like a cricket.

Tomorrow there might be nothing
to say except Move your car a little further away from the tree.
Try again.
I watch somebody steal
a parking spot, it’s true, facing the wrong way,
while birds congregate without crossing the border.

I’ve had the most unbelievable time
and am afraid of the direction he’s walking in,
Just write sentences, the rabbits tell me,
while the brain cues up,
the motor of something relaxing shuts,
starts up again, at the reflection of the blue button.

The forest was close
and young.
The rooster’s horrible.
Pat’s car sounds like a truck.

This is normalcy’s flavor.
“Say my phone dies
in the middle of the road…”

I love how nothing
worries, how not eating
doesn’t faze, how a green shirt
suits, peppermint.

The poems (don’t) take too long to read.
Whatever that bee’s thinking, I’m thinking too.
I’ll be on the porch, fairest listening,
I’ll be on the porch for all of it.

Donald Berger’s poems and prose have appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Conjunctions, TriQuarterly, The Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Fence, The Massachusetts Review, Ironwood, and other magazines including some from Berlin, Leipzig, Budapest, Hong Kong, and China. Quality Hill, his first book, was published by C.D. Wright’s and Forrest Gander’s Lost Roads Publishers. In March 2015, Wallstein Verlag, a major press in Goettingen, Germany, published a bilingual edition of his second book, The Long Time. For many years he taught writing and literature at the University of Maryland, where he also helped direct the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing. He now teaches at Johns Hopkins University.

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