John McKernan


During the days and nights
Of Lenin and Stalin

Russian poets wrote
In pencil

Not in the Cyrillic alphabet
But the Greek alphabet

On tiny sheets
Of cigarette paper

The record was six poems
On both sides

Small the vowels & consonants
Heavy the weight     Heavier

Than a hammer and a sickle
Fabricated from a panzer tank


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 for ABZ Press. His most recent book is a book of selected poems, Resurrection of the Dust.  He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines.


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