Poetry from J.K. Durick


Prayer remains a reflex

even after all these years

of silence – wishes ungranted,

questions unanswered

puzzles unsolved

a reflex, a response when one of those

moments strike

the sunshine on a cold morning

catches our eye, or

bad news from television, this front or that

a diagnoses we didn’t expect

a phone call in the middle of the night

the doorbell

someone asking for help you can’t give

then they ask you to pray

and you remember the words

string them together

a hiccup, a reflex

something you try to perform

in the silent theater of your life.

List of Deceased Classmates

First thing I thought of when I saw it was

my college yearbook off there somewhere

collecting dust in some box, on some shelf.

Yearbooks make sense at first, fresh faces

of classmates, some you recall, then others

you think you recognize from their pictures,

formal picture of each one, then activities,

clubs and teams. They goes on a shelf, then

disappears into the years. Everything ages

we know, everything we know ages, even

the classmates frozen in time in yearbooks

age, live lives after then, do great things or

little things, careers and families, the stuff

that fills obituaries or are hinted at in lists

like the one I got today, the list of deceased

classmates. The list seems long for a class

that was fairly small – I count forty-four

and know there’s more out there, or should

I say not out there, more names, more dates.

I should find my yearbook and look at faces

and names, all of us, before that list began

being compiled.

 An Ache

The pain in my right elbow this morning

reminds me,

puts a bit of emphasis on

the hold my body has over my mind,

how time has brought the two

to cross purposes.

My body says one thing, complains on and on

about this pain or that,

about a weakness in that or that

a shortage, a soreness, a stinging,

while my mind moves on, runs marathons

sprints, sets records and ambitions

does all the things it did back when even

my elbow didn’t ache and the physical part

kept up with what I was thinking.

But this morning I’m reminded of how

my mind rides around in a vehicle that’s

wearing out, piece by piece

is riding around in a body that hopes to 

at best, at least

limp across the finish line.

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