Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four December 2022.
Hallmark, poems byJohn Samuel Tieman.
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
they say. Vietnam didn’t kill me. That four-way
hit of acid didn’t kill me. My father didn’t kill me.
A jealous husband almost killed me. When I was
young, mostly I almost killed myself. I didn’t get
stronger. I was afraid of being wounded by a river,
afraid of a beast that escaped. In my middle years,
the trees along our street were violet. A streetlamp’s
glare off the neighbor’s window was immense and
deprived of stars. Now I am old, 72. The years
didn’t make me wise and when I cry because
someone died, living doesn’t make me stronger.
On my 73rd birthday, I will be given all my
other years. Then one after another they’ll
depart, each like a ferry late for the other shore.
I will forget – and keep forgetting – the seductive
months, a destiny, the nurse’s teeth and fingers.
I will forget – and I mean to forget – the avid
window and the rain, the psalm and the lava.
I don’t want to die. But once I heard the wind play
the leaves like a harp. And my wife walking naked
through the house. These gifts I will keep. These
the nights I’m terrified by a misshapen thing
the misprint or the phosphorescent fish
tonight it’s my photos of kids in The Nam
Pete smiling and cleaning his M-16
Hank grinning and his Montagnard
bowl full of Cambodian Red
Greaser angry and slamming
the door to his deuce and a half
and us just kids getting ready for a truck
convoy through the Mang Yang Pass
a convoy that wounds us to this day
© John Samuel Tieman
John Samuel Tieman, of St. Louis, is a widely published poet and essayist. His chapbook, “A Concise Biography Of Original Sin”, is published by BkMk Press. His poetry has appeared in “The Americas Review”, “The Caribbean Quarterly”, “The Chariton Review”, “The Iowa Review”, “Rattle”, “River Styx” “Stand”, and “Vox Populi”. He writes a weekly column for “Axar.az”, a popular online news service in Eurasia.