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John Sokol
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is a writer and painter living in Akron, OH. His poems have appeared in Antigonish Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Georgetown Review, The New York Quarterly, and Quarterly West. His chapbook, "Kissing the Bees," won the 1999 Redgreene Press Chapbook Competition. "In the Summer of Cancer," a full collection of his poetry, is his latest book.

Dog Eat Dog

The woman in the brownstone
saw him from her second-story
window and called the cops.
When they arrived
they found the man
sitting on the curb,
eating a dead dog.
Blood and hair
covered the man’s mouth.
Eyes Manson-like,
he growled
and snarled
when the officers approached.
The woman ran
out of her house
in her curlers
and green Spandex;
"I saw the whole thing,
officers!
The dog bit him first!"

                                           First published in The Pittsburgh Quarterly

 

 

In the Summer of Cancer

And we'll say baby ain't it all worthwhile
     when the healing has begun 

                                 -- Van Morrison

 

Butterfly weed flamed orange
in fields of chickory and vetch,
the white stars of snakeroot
glowed in the shade
of shagbark and beech.
The blues were out of season
and the bitchy crows
had no complaints.

When I asked you to put on
your pretty summer dress,
that's all you wore
as we walked down laurel
and hawthorne avenues
to our favorite kip
in the sumac grove.

And when you took off
your red dress, we thought
the healing had begun.
For awhile, at least -- a brief time
in the sun -- your hair grew back,
your veins were rivers,
your lungs had cleared.
Beyond our hills, Homer's reaper
was stuck in a ditch
and yes, yes, yes
we were screaming.

                                    First Published in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
Holy Loss and the Benefits of Adversity
the one-armed man said,
                           
"I caught a fish this big!"

*

the deaf-mute and his blind wife
were very happy. He couldn't
hear her complaints, and she
couldn't see his.

*

one morning, the man with Alzheimers
woke up laughing, and said,
"he who laughs laughs, laughs laughs!"

*

over a lifetime, the old blind woman
had developed 20/20 vision
in her third eye.

*

when the man in Kansas searched through
his belongings after he lost everything
in a tornado, he found in himself, what
until then he never knew he had.
 
 
  
                                                                      First published in PoetryMagazine.com

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