Archive for the John Macker Category

John Macker

Posted in John Macker with tags on February 10, 2022 by Scot




–After Noor Hindi

Every time I hear a politician
interviewed I lose the power of speech.
I’m trying to coax this cold morning
out of my bones & damned if they didn’t
just find a one buried beneath
the eighty year old spruce blown down
next to the cathedral during a wind storm.
If it could talk what stories it could tell!
I absolve myself of all miscommunication.
I check my phone for my vocabulary.
I know what exasperate means.
Sometimes words have two meanings
like intercourse and bark.

Today is the shortest day of the year,
cold and merciful, today
even the wind can harbor
a stray jeremiad.
Listening to a politician,
is there a literary underground
for even their whitest lies?
Listening to a politician
I want to exhume my youthful vitality
my hash pipe coyotes,
lyrics by Robert Hunter
my feverish horizons,
Lew Welch’s
up until dawn fire gigglers.
I fear the longest night of the year
will last until spring.



St. Louis Blues

My first confession was at
Saint Louis Catholic Church
on Sherman street
the yellow light over the confessional
meant one of us had knelt down and
was saying “bless me Father,
for I have sinned,”
while for me it meant this
could be the end of days.
If I was to drop by tomorrow
I’d say it’s been fifty years since
my last confession, the same number
of years Roberto Bolaño lived, Father,
I swear, these are my sins.
But I didn’t swear. I would remember the
stained glass coronas surrounding the sacred
heads of Joseph and Mary and the saints like
full solar eclipses. I’d remember the first Mexican
beer I ever drank, I’d pray for my friends to safely
navigate the variants. I have sinned.

Our parochial school Sister Veronica was an old crow
and possibly now a saint. A corona surrounds
the sun hard in the sky, blinds me as I leave the
rigid darkness:
where is the benediction
for the animals? Where are the desolation
angels? The prayers for mother earth?
The sepia toned votive-lit echo chamber of pews,
a crucifix fixed on the north star,
the devout whispers of second graders,
I remember. I genuflected, crossed
myself, for that moment my conscience
was clear, the holy water in the baptismal
font didn’t roil when I passed by.
But I had used the Lord’s name in vain.
I grappled with impure seven year old
thoughts, I feared and loved my sister,

I venerated the Holy Ghost and
every cemetery of the soul he/she/it haunted.
Now, Mother Theresa is the star of her own
stained glass window. Jesus on the cross
admonished me from the altar for all of my
future trespasses.
It was a miracle he survived.




some day climate change
will roll up on shore
and claim all the graves
in New Orleans
look around
everywhere some contagion
the afternoon has found its blaze
the heat rises like an elevator
to the gallows
a poet wrote he had the
soul of a baby wolf
some genetic need to
affiliate with the natural world
I know it’s not enough to tread
lightly or stay on the path
or hosanna Greta Thunberg’s name
in the church of feral light

most days I have the need to
affiliate with the sun’s
distant bloodshot trance,
or one of its flowers
or forest bathe beneath an
umbrella of browning
Ponderosas    most days the
earth pleads for rain
most days cloud forests drift orphaned⸺
one fallen tree after another
I don’t think a minute of their
unforced silences
grieves for the disturbed earth
the undulant fragrance of the
wildfire smoke
has the tenacity to
demean the stars.


John Macker has lived in Northern New Mexico for 25 years. His most recent books are Atlas of Wolves, The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away (Selected Poems 1983-2018) (2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards finalist), El Rialto (a memoir), and Desert Threnody, essays and short fiction (a 2021 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards winner for fiction anthology). For several years, he was a contributor to Albuquerque’s Malpais Review. His one-act play “Coyote Acid” was produced by TeatroParaguas in Santa Fe in early 2022.

Altar Boy by John Macker

Posted in John Macker with tags on November 17, 2020 by Scot


I woke up an altar boy all
over again after all these years
I didn’t know godhood
from my neighborhood,
I knew the monstrance
held the mysteries,
I knew Father Ryan’s
hands were as fragile as white orchids
ritual like his cassock was applied to my
soul in layers. I rang the bells
I moved the Book
the other boy lit the candles,
went mute disappeared.
The mass abandoned Latin.
When I wrote myself into adulthood
Lorca said
The poet is an anarchist
the voices that rise from his being
are death, love and art but the bells still
ring in my darkened sleep, the voice of the
homily alive in my dreams, in the winter darkened
church all that’s left of my childhood is
my first and last confession.