3 Poems by John Findura


I don’t remember if we had been playing cards
but once we sat at your parents’ kitchen table
and sometime during that night you told me
about your sister in the Florida hospital

none of us knew you had a sister

We stayed up until dawn playing video games
and spitting tobacco into empty iced tea bottles
and during the winter you walked home in the snow

Now you are dead somewhere

a bullet hole or many bullet holes in you

I don’t know

I want to ask your father was it a bullet hole or many bullet holes?

You scored a touchdown against the state champs
and you went to a Big Ten college in another state
and you had a girlfriend you said you didn’t deserve

You would call me at all hours of the night
and just laugh

You have already been buried and I did not know you were dead

Now I assume your hair is short and an American flag
was draped over your coffin, but I’m probably wrong

You had joined the military years ago to find yourself
and you had left the military years ago only to find this now

I assume your sister was given a pass from the hospital
to attend your funeral, but maybe she was never told either

Even if she was told she still might not know anyway

I think you cried at the kitchen table that night

Maybe it was exsanguination, or traumatic hypovolemic shock,
a pneumothorax, or anything but saying shot to death

Your father won’t say shot to death and your mother still
brings out your dinner plate on weekends and cries at that same
kitchen table where we sat possibly playing cards

When we were young you had a New York accent
and when we grew up you still had a New York accent
and now you are dead somewhere and I don’t know where you are buried

It is often funny how things work out at times
This is not one of those times

I don’t know if it was your mother or father
who answered the phone
and I don’t know if it was day or night
or even what season it was

I don’t know if you were alone or with a girlfriend you didn’t deserve
or even if you were by now married with New York-accented children

I do know stupid things about kinetic energy like KE = mv2/2
where m = mass and v = velocity and this all explains why
projectiles of greater mass and/or velocity create greater tissue disruption
than projectiles of lower mass and/or velocity
and all together what that means is that you are not coming back

because you have already been buried and I did not know you were dead

But, I am sure, you know this for yourself by now

— —


Once I read an article about a surrealist
magician, painter, and all around roustabout
who turned into an owl in 1976
and scared schoolchildren in England

Perhaps I misread that

Maybe it was an article about coincidences
and a man playing a joke who suddenly
flew up into the air revealing that it was not a joke

Maybe it was about Mexico City
and psychic marionettes strutting by
or even what the Tibetans call tulpas

Sometimes I worry that I am a tulpa myself
that I am just the manifestation of sheer discipline

Sometimes I think that I have created myself

Once I wrote that “I am my own continent now”
This is what I meant before I knew the word

— —


She would never say
sofa for me, and I asked
her often

it was simply the way
her accent turned the so
into a foreign animal

the way fa sounded
brisk and meaningfully

sounded like the foundation
of the Western world
and of myself

it had nothing to do
with a place to sit, to
perhaps lie down

it only had to do
with something I choose
to keep even from myself

— —
John Findura is the author of the poetry collection Submerged (ELJ, 2018). He holds an MFA from The New School as well as a degree in psychotherapy. His poetry and criticism appear in numerous journals including Verse; Fourteen Hills; Copper Nickel; Pleiades; Forklift, Ohio; Sixth Finch; Prelude; and Rain Taxi. A guest blogger for The Best American Poetry, he lives in Northern New Jersey with his wife and daughters.