Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
About This
How to Submit

Gone Lawn 11
Summer, 2013
guest edited by Yarrow Paisley

Featured painting, ©2013 by Pd Lietz :

Featured Excerpt
Short Prose
Very Short Prose

John McKernan

My Student

wept for hours every day for two weeks     Then she took the cat out of the freezer and had it cremated     For three months she kept the ashes in a extra large size Zip-Lock Bag in a kitchen drawer with towels & napkins     I kept asking  Why not the cookie jar?    Why not the flour bin?    She never used either of those    Why not keep an empty coffee can instead of throwing it away? After sex one evening she showed me a brass urn    It amazed me how little the cat weighed    It was around the time of Mardi Gras     I generally liked her ideas so I dipped a wet finger in the brass urn and painted a small charcoal O around each pink nipple    She guessed right    It did taste salty    Outside a hungry alley cat kept howling for hours at a single curved thread of raw new moon    Her last words to me were on a cell phone    Send smoke signals she whispered

Last Lecture

Good to see how smoke vanishes into a gray sky      A blue sky too     I gave you all the wrong lessons     I taught several extinct alphabets     I should have kept pointing to my shadow     A shadow should fall from something     I should have taught you to count forwards     Zero is always approachable anyway from two directions     Plato's perfect number      Although it wasn't invented then     I guess I thought that because I ate dirt for years I should keep chewing tiny hieroglyphic stones     Some mysticisms seem forms of insanity   What kind of geography was that?     Ghost towns     Lost continents      Glaciers the size of Texas      Volcanoes     Earthquakes Did I mention the prairie grass fire that fed smoked bison to a million crows?    I never bought you a can of alphabet soup    It is OK to dream about Volcanoes     If you decide to become a teacher you will learn how effective silence can be

Last Journal Entry

Suicide by eating JIF Peanut Butter?    Why aren’t there any bridges or lakes or 18 wheel Mack Trucks in this quiet neighborhood? Look at Allen Ginsburg. He used a new hypodermic needle and some saline potassium. He didn’t get AIDS from that needle. And that cruise ship Hart Crane stowed aboard? Why doesn’t it dock in Kansas? Think of Sally. She killed her three kids the first time she took a hit of crack to piss off her husband. Look at her there. There is not a sewer in Dubuque she hasn’t crawled through in the middle of winter. A small boy looked up at his father shaving. His face smeared with Burma Shave lather. The straight edge razor floated through the air like a silver cloud. When they found him in his bed, he was sticky and red and quiet. He had cleaned the straight edge and folded it back into its handle. Then there was our neighbor Miss Gloria. She used vodka in everything she ate and drank. Vodka coleslaw. Vodka Tea. Vodka Jello. The man from the cable found her after a snowstorm. She was looking out the window at the bird feeder.

Chicory Blossoms on the Blackboard

Blue Blue    Blue    The color of this blonde Cheerleader    Junior Year    Botany Class Substitute teacher's    Minneapolis snowflake Eyes     I would have kissed and licked the dust in the Cathedral High Biology Lab that she walked on    Those tendril curls bobbing in sunlight as she filled the board with a rainbow of colored chalks     Intricate photographically accurate    Detailed    plants     rhizomes     roots    tubers   stem    stalk    bud blossom and flower     New languages as if from another world     Ultramarine Roses    Tiger Lilies    Baby's Breath    Malus Edenica      I would dope myself sleepy with an image of sunlight on her thin tan wrist while reciting next day's list of new words     Sequoia    Umbelliferae    Brigitte Bardot    Hieracium    Eve Arden Aurantiacum

John McKernan—who grew up in Omaha Nebraska—is now retired after teaching 41 years at Marshall University. He lives—most of the year—in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press—which publishes an annual poetry magazine and publishes each year a first book of poetry in the ABZ Poetry Prize Contest. His most recent book is selected poems Resurrection of the Dust.