John, Saint John.
The beautiful.
The tall.
The dignified.
Can make a baseball soar far past the eastern fence posts,
too far for me to run and catch in time.

Early in the morning he’ll hop aboard that plane
and go away.
Fly out to the west, past dragonfly mists called Kansas Dawn;
sunflowers and grasshoppers and sweeping hawk.

John, Saint John.
When I wake up, you will be gone.

There was the time we sat all day
plucking crawdads out of the creek,
and he was gonna sell them down on the corner-
a quarter a piece.
We sat in the heat,
back then it felt like forever.

I said I wanted to be tall like him.
But he said girls needn't be tall, just freckled.
I grew tall anyway, John, Saint John.
The engine fires; I dream a song.
When I wake up, you will be gone.

Another time at the lake, the same one we risked all winter,
water swallowed me up in my ratty pink suit
and John jumped in.
I watched, arms flailing, breath holding,
I watched and he flew like a golden eagle over me
and splash, was next to me,
arms around me, pulled me to the shore.
Only a week later his daddy would die,
so you can’t save everyone.
When he kissed me I knew, could smell the whiskey,
pretended so that we were still on the corner in the sun.
Never said why, just goodbye.
Sometimes a man gotta get up and fly.

John, Saint John.
When I wake up, you will be gone.


  1. Lovely poem, Amy. It reminds me of days that I never spent in America, and friends that I never had, on warm summer nights.

  2. Thank you Tom. It reminds me of all that too! I wrote it for some contest with the instructions to use the words John Saint John and sunflower.

  3. I love this, Amy! Sounds almost like lyric to a song, almost. It has a great cadence to it.

  4. Yay! Glad you like it Talli. Well . . . you know I write songs too : ) I was actually trying really hard not to make too many rhymed endings and perfect rhythm and all that-a hard habit to break after all these years. I think it came out just well enough so that it has the cadence you mentioned without being obvious.

  5. Reminds me of a Sandburg poem. I believe it's title was "Dream Girl", but Sandburg's work didn't ring as personal as yours.

    Good poem!

  6. That's a really beautiful poem, Amy. So good that I read it thrice!

    Bisou, and more crawdads on your line, Cro.

  7. Thanks so much both Mohamed and Cro!


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