John Samuel Tieman – The Arrival

John Samuel Tieman LE P&W Oct 2022

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The Arrival, poems by John Samuel Tieman.

These poems are from his series entitled “echoes”, and are inspired by the poets and poems listed below each of Tieman’s poems.

The Arrival*

What you heard is true. During her journey north
to these States, she crawled a mile on her knees
to pray before the tilma of an Aztec peasant.
But according to our laws, she is as shapeless

as an uncharted shore. Her accent is a libretto
of birds, but her asylum application is a keening
in a shocking key. She lists as her sole asset her

hope to die among us. In the space about “Home”,
she writes, “My mother’s breast tasted of her barbaric
salt. When I crossed the desert, the memory of
her orchard made me voiceless and finally foreign.”

*After “La Extranjera”, “The Foreigner” by Gabriela Mistral

Sort of a sonnet for quarantine*

If this plague lasts a thousand more days,
I won’t need more than a word.
A word is all I will need for the sleep
deprived nights I will sit on the porch.

This word should be a pallid thing,
say something a Trappist abandoned.
It should arrive like a cop with a warrant,
the cop that slams me up against the wall.

I don’t need more than a word that explains
combing my hair and making the bed.
I don’t need more than a word that explains
clutching my chest when I die.

And it will make sense, this word, this
and a pallid tree that the bird abandoned.

*After Reading Garcia Lorca


What color was the flag that flew at Auschwitz?
We’ve all stood at attention, listened
to the bugle, saluted Old Glory and pledged
to kill anyone who raises the wrong colors.
We talk of planting and raising a flag
like it’s going to grow. Like after a battle
our flag will live off the smoke, smoke
that moves like smoke expelled
from a cancerous lung. As for Auschwitz,
all flags are black in the absence of light.

* After Reading Gloria Fuertes

State And Local*

I have two homes in truth, St. Louis and darkness.
I prefer the simplicity of the city compared to all
the complex blues and grays of a low lying fog in
the Ozarks at dawn. Yet daylight impedes our
words. And in the night we know only the symbols
for sex and good-bye. We wave a white flag
but our surrender is never accepted. Thus do I find
my childhood, the silence of men, a hawthorn,
and all the books the widows will never read.
A cloud obscures the sky, and through my homes
a river, which speaks better than men, passes.

*After reading “Two Countries”, “Dos Patrias”, by José Marti

How To Make A Fascist*

The Party won’t ask you to lend a hand.
They will ask you to donate your hands, legs,
chest, shoulders. The body is the easy ask.
Then The Party will ask for time. They first
will want just a few minutes to rewrite a little
history. The Party will next ask you to fix
your eyes on a screen where there was
a newspaper. But this is mere education.
In these trying times, the party will want
one last something simple, your lips,
because lips are the prelude to owning
your tongue. Indeed, in trying times,
as The Leader says, “The mind is a simple
tool once The Party owns all the words.”
When you are fully prepared, hands, legs,
chest, shoulders, lips and tongue and even
your very words, The Party will order you
to take a walk, just take a walk. It’s a test.
Just take a walk past houses where there
used to be Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Mexicans,
Asians, words. In these times, The Leader
calls your silence “Passing The Final Exam”.

* While reading “En Tiempos Dificiles”, “In Difficult Times” by Heberto Padilla

© John Samuel Tieman

John Samuel Tieman, of St. Louis, is a widely published poet and essayist. His poetry has appeared in “The Americas Review”, “The Caribbean Quarterly”, “The Chariton Review”, “The Iowa Review”, “Rattle”, “River Styx”, and “Stand”. He writes a weekly column for “”, a popular online news service in Eurasia.

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