Beyond the Balustrade (Poem)

[by Daniel R. Jones]

 (After John 8:2-11.)

NO FOREIGNER
IS TO GO BEYOND THE BALUSTRADE
AND THE PLAZA OF THE TEMPLE ZONE
WHOEVER IS CAUGHT DOING SO
WILL HAVE HIMSELF TO BLAME
FOR HIS DEATH
WHICH WILL FOLLOW.
-The Warning Inscription in the Jerusalem Temple

Darker, more substantive
against a backdrop of
pastel, Judean girls:
my mistress strode
all smoke and sparks
in the marketplace.

I gave the devil his due,
offered, even, some gratuity;
steeling myself against
the thought of her open
mouth kissing my
throat’s blood vessels open, 

As I wince through
Forgive me, Father,
for I have sinned,
still sin, in truth,
intend on
right on sinning.

Her husband’s not at home,
but he’s a good man.
Yeah, well, in Eden
Eve was enticed.
Desire isn’t always sprung
for lack of something.

Her body was a temple,
and she let me in.
There, beyond the balustrade
they found me.
Dragged her through the complex
while I fled on foot.

Some mornings I try to catch her
gaze in the city square
as she haggles the price
of a fish or purchases a basket;
her movements are lighter,
more fluid than they were before.

She left her life of sin,
the day she wasn’t stoned.
Where are your accusers?
Meanwhile, townspeople prattle
on about how I should’ve stood
beside her. It was a stroke of luck

when I fled with my life in my hands,
or so they say. But she
has faced the Arbitrator
and been absolved.
And I have yet
to face Him.

The Brunt of the Curse (poem)

Having borne the brunt
of the women’s curse,
your mother sat with you,
quietly nursing at her breast.

Your pink wrinkles shielded under
her sea-green hospital gown:
My eyes are blessed to see this.
Blessed and red and wet.

Every few days, your lifespan doubled,
but all you knew so far was white walls
sterile scenery and dry hospital air.

I read the parable of the lost sheep
and a Pablo Neruda poem—
wistful and melancholy.
For now you’ll just have to imagine
what a sheep or a Chilean “calle” might look like.

The brunt of a man’s curse
is that the work he does
for the ones he loves
is done almost entirely away from them.

I kissed your head and I headed for the door into the sunshine,
hoping maybe tomorrow you could see it for yourself.

Fevered Ream (Prose Poem)

[Note: the following poem was originally published in the Quarterly Speculative Poetry Magazine Eye to the Telescope on Oct. 15, 2016.]

(by Daniel R. Jones)

Against a heat-lightning veneer of 130-thread count you slip from your die-cast sarcophagus comatose to ghost, soul tethered to body like a dangling tooth a child is not willing to yank; 

don’t know that you’re dead so your soul lingers in room 607 of St. Vincent’s Hospital like it’s got nothing better to do, lifting out of body, settling back in, tossing and turning in a hospital-standard twin-size adjustable.

You burn blue across an Elysian nebula hung high between the star of Bethlehem and another; a faint drawn route by an aura Luna moth seeking streetlight. You’re pouring pools of amber over aircraft contrails before clattering down, down: a blip on the Hubble as you land a far-cry from Mount Moriah and a scientist on the other end of the monitor blinks twice before uttering:

I saw one.

33 RPM (Poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

[Note: this poem was originally printed in Bethel University’s literary journal, “Crossings,” in their Spring 2013 issue. It was the poem chosen for the “Excellence in Creative Writing-Poetry” award.]

The record spun, and the needle sung,
And tonight, he’s singing Sinatra.

And as the scraped LP
spinning 33,

was rung through the lungs
and the piano keys.

Candles are lit,
as we sit, just you and me.

The needle grinds in 4:4 time,
the song is sweet, and you are mine.

Dance to silence, kiss to songs;
we heard the words and sung along.

The song then over, crescendo passed,
the needle lifted up at last.

You stayed, and with your fingers traced
the laugh lines cast across my face.

And the touch and brush of your own hand
composed more poems than mine ever can.

Up from my heart arises a song,
that bids you come and sing along.

Extraterrestrial Tanka (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

[Note: this poem was originally published in the quarterly print edition of Star*Line on July 1, 2017.]

amber-dotted skies.
paper lanterns wink:
night of the Chinese New Year.

scores of UFOs phoned in:
we slip under the radar.

Threescore Years and Ten of Writer’s Block (poem)

To quote the infinite monkey theorem: if you were to
be one of a million monkeys at a million typewriters
or keyboards, spread across eternity, time constraints
not-with-standing, you would eventually put
to ink the entire corpus of Shakespeare’s work.
Be certain of that.

That is what worries me, though–that the theorem
is correct; that the typewriter is my own; that I’m
the lone monkey in
question.