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Jon Thompson: Three new poems.


Low hum or high winds,
hard to say. Outsideness
looks cinematic, the world
putting on airs
with winter-stripped trees,
gospel-swaying back & forth
outside old-fashioned paned glass.
Winter-sharp branches
wave wildly, sough
a song not their own.
Wrens try out a call &
response in the
emptiness between
boughs then
wing away. What
is the weather?
It’s mainly a feeling,
a set of feelings, that
defines a day. A happening
that causes panic;
a happening instead of panic.
In the place of clouds,
an exilic grey mass is moving
eastward, pushing light out of the way.
There’s a travelling in the air,
an ideation & dispossession
that’s premonitory, a sense
of something coming, something
you have not agreed to. A quietness.
A waiting for catastrophe.
Or a waiting that does without it.


And did those in the warship with the long oars


the defeat in the triumph

on the long odyssey home?

The childish scrawl gives the galleys a gaiety

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx& an innocence.

An outline of triumph against the elements, buoyant blue.

The wind flutters the banners. Oars dig deep.

The world lies before it: everything to be won.

But something else

in the banners’ jubilant waving.

Lepanto Lepanto Lepanto:

the letters & sounds are running backward


—after Cy Twombley’s drawings



If you can.
Funny that it is
all about an action
that’s not happening.
Or is it an instruction
to find the world funny?
How funny
is that. World, world
of code & semaphore,
messages that blink
for a bit and then
are gone, like an
SOS with only
the faintest, most
hidden, of
distress signals.

Jon Thompson teaches twentieth-century and contemporary literature at North Carolina State University, where he edits Free Verse: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry & Poetics, an annual online journal, and the poetry series, Free Verse Editions, which now has over 30 titles on its list. Shearsman Books will be publishing his next collection, Landscape with Light, in September 2014. More on him at


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