John Allen Taylor

The boy thinks of after
          after Laurie Lamon

unravels his muscles
hums into their sting
& dreams in the sunlight
now that it’s come
now that he’s passed
the night leans into the empty
beyond the bed beyond
the wrinkle & sop
of clogged pores of a throat
swollen with breath
the boy sings his body
back from the man
lingering before him
as he opens his eyes
the hands on his thighs
are his own the boy
thinks of the itch of sleep
without risk of not waking
pulls each bare leg into the light
the boy watches the trees
out the window the wind
in the trees the bright room
a corn snake enters the garden
the two of them under the sun



Dear Friend
          after & for Brionne Janae

today we picked up branches after
a storm & I noticed a bird’s nest
among the pine cones     an old nest
an unknown bird     Marie helped me
bury it     the loss of a home is a kind
of death     we know this     & I
thought of the afternoon we met
for lunch in Bellflower     just a mile
from where your parents live
& where my mother lived     where
my grandmother lived     where
my great grandfather lived
where I spent summers in diapers
not two blocks from where you
& your brother played in the yard
twenty-five years before we met
in Boston     this is the kind of magic
I’m interested in     how we survived
childhood near unharmed     an armful
of scars     a headful of nightmares
what else     some people pay to watch
nightmares     the day we buried Grandad
we cleared out his house & I found
an old suitcase full of crayons
I brought it to my mother & she smiled
for the first time that day     telling
me how he packed his suitcase each
Sunday with the colors he thought
the children at church would like most
when I tell you I wept     because this too
is a kind of magic     we buried a man
& we sold a house     but we kept
a cracked Samsonite suitcase full to burst
of crayons     I like to think     though
the years don’t quite work     that he
passed your house on the way
to church &     seeing you     stopped
removed his hat     opened his case     & knelt
offering something like sacrament
a bright yellow crayon



John Allen Taylor is the author of the chapbook Unmonstrous (YesYes Books, 2019). His poems appear in DIAGRAM, Nashville Review, The Common, Pleiades, and other places. In addition to his role as the co-director of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, John serves as the senior poetry reader for Ploughshares, coordinates the writing center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and bakes sourdough bread. For more, visit