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Syndic Literary Journal

“1 & 2” ∼ Page 7 ∼ by J.H. Johns & Paul Churchill Mann

Photo by Dariusz Pacak

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

The streets seemed normal
in a distantly abnormal
sort of way;
Broadway was uneventful
and so was 26th
until I got to Park;
from there,
I could see it;
throngs of people
in the throes of tribulation,
being incessantly filmed
and “Reported Live;”
close now,
the Armory loomed;
covered in pictures,
surrounded by the grieving,
surrounded by the counselors,
surrounded by the charity workers,
surrounded by their protectors-
police and military-

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

It was a ground zero
for the vigils;
people waiting to hear;
comforting and strengthening each other.
It was Union Square Park
where I wanted to see
just how a vigil was begun,
and maybe even ended.
I had expectations
as I came south on
and approached the north side of the park;
there I found neither vigils
nor keepers of vigils,
but an open-air market
selling apples and carrots
and lettuce and cabbage;
wondering now about
this being so different a vigil,
so different from the vigils.
Checking that the park was right-
that I was right-
I continued to the homeless center
of the park;
sitting on benches,
sleeping on the ground-
a vigil to lives lost
but bodies present
in the shadowed third of the park;
where the park overlooks 14th Street-
I found them;
and their efforts-
individual and group-
of hope and prayer,
strength and belief,
resolve and faith;
the sellers,
the buyers,
the forgotten
and the hopeful
sharing the same space
at different points
in their lives.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

The winds changed
and the cloud
crept in over us;
early on,
the tell-tale
was on the breeze.
Slipping and curling,
is it there,
is it not?
A white-ashen mist,
easily and quietly
spreading from the west;
nothing more
than a September haze,
or so it looked
from the window;
thicker and deeper
and whiter it spread
until you stepped out into it;
catching your breath,
you knew
what it was;
taking calculated gasps
because you knew
it wasn’t good;
waiting to exhale
until you could
get inside, again.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

The kid
was in school
when the winds changed;
when breathing
became a calculated event
in the aftermath of destruction;
the kid
was in school
when the cloud settled in;
when fresh air
surrendered to wall to wall smell
and ceiling to floor toxicity;
the kid
was in school
when you called to find out;
they told you
that all of the windows were closed,
but with no air-conditioning on;
the kid
was in school
before she was pulled;
then brought home
where the air was breathe-able
and you knew your kid was safe from harm.



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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