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Three poems by John Gallagher

Laudate Dominum, Severance, The Car Salesman

  • Laudate Dominum
  • Lit stalks stitch patterns over moss-mute boughs,
  • The patched procession of winter and early dawn.
  • A dormant vine’s engrafted web soon glows,
  • Emblazoned tongues along the runged oration.
  • O distant fire, stirred to renew in rose
  • The ice-crowned crevice and the gelid grain,
  • Remind us of that language thawed earth knows,
  • Roots spelling pulp-white limbs in loam again.
  • Severance
  • It’s not unlike the killing of rabbits, quick
  • And brutal, and it leaves a lingering sick
  • Feeling that takes some time to overcome.
  • Harvest days on the farm my chest grew numb
  • With the work, until we could finally freeze
  • The meat. Even then the hint of unease
  • Was there, the general gloom that wants to stay
  • When any mortal life takes another’s away.
  • And you really never get used to that,
  • The whiff of finality in every set
  • Task and familiar rhythm of labor’s give
  • And take. The shock that comes, bolt from above,
  • As soon as “terminated” settles in.
  • At some point, while the details rattle on,
  • No matter how quickly done, and with tact,
  • Somewhere in the background still looms the fact
  • You see in the face turned to ash, then red.
  • The air drips adrenaline. Each word that’s said
  • Or not said trembles in the throat and hands.
  • At last, tears and outrages past, the victim stands
  • And turns not quite sure where the door is, like
  • Lazarus still bound, unable to speak,
  • Staggering back into the light he had
  • Almost completely forgotten in death’s cold shade.
  • The Car Salesman
  • Man minus the Machine is a slave; Man plus the Machine is a freeman.
  • Henry Ford
  • Angelic metal measures out the light
  • In angled shafts. They sharpen the contoured forms
  • Of cars sweating out this summer’s afternoon.
  • It’s show-time again. Cheeks of leather. Bright
  • Eyes shift like mirrors in the sun, and swarms
  • Of honeycombed words purr along the promising tune.
  • The familiar theme of perfection is renewed
  • In ergonomic features, each designed
  • To ease the weight of pilgrimage with all
  • The comforts of a home. And so, the road
  • Transforms in his magician’s gesturing hand
  • From tired commute into the elusive goal.
  • I can almost smell the apples and the hay
  • Through those windows when they glide like butter down
  • With barely a touch of my finger at the door.
  • And miles of rolling wheels beneath the play
  • Of well-oiled pistons brush with the breath of a gown
  • As he steers me into the cool shade of the store.
John Gallagher

John Gallagher holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Dallas. He and his family live in the Northwest.

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Burak Fatsa/Getty Images Plus

  • Laudate Dominum
  • Lit stalks stitch patterns over moss-mute boughs,
  • The patched procession of winter and early dawn.
  • A dormant vine’s engrafted web soon glows,
  • Emblazoned tongues along the runged oration.
  • O distant fire, stirred to renew in rose
  • The ice-crowned crevice and the gelid grain,
  • Remind us of that language thawed earth knows,
  • Roots spelling pulp-white limbs in loam again.
  • Severance
  • It’s not unlike the killing of rabbits, quick
  • And brutal, and it leaves a lingering sick
  • Feeling that takes some time to overcome.
  • Harvest days on the farm my chest grew numb
  • With the work, until we could finally freeze
  • The meat. Even then the hint of unease
  • Was there, the general gloom that wants to stay
  • When any mortal life takes another’s away.
  • And you really never get used to that,
  • The whiff of finality in every set
  • Task and familiar rhythm of labor’s give
  • And take. The shock that comes, bolt from above,
  • As soon as “terminated” settles in.
  • At some point, while the details rattle on,
  • No matter how quickly done, and with tact,
  • Somewhere in the background still looms the fact
  • You see in the face turned to ash, then red.
  • The air drips adrenaline. Each word that’s said
  • Or not said trembles in the throat and hands.
  • At last, tears and outrages past, the victim stands
  • And turns not quite sure where the door is, like
  • Lazarus still bound, unable to speak,
  • Staggering back into the light he had
  • Almost completely forgotten in death’s cold shade.
  • The Car Salesman
  • Man minus the Machine is a slave; Man plus the Machine is a freeman.
  • Henry Ford
  • Angelic metal measures out the light
  • In angled shafts. They sharpen the contoured forms
  • Of cars sweating out this summer’s afternoon.
  • It’s show-time again. Cheeks of leather. Bright
  • Eyes shift like mirrors in the sun, and swarms
  • Of honeycombed words purr along the promising tune.
  • The familiar theme of perfection is renewed
  • In ergonomic features, each designed
  • To ease the weight of pilgrimage with all
  • The comforts of a home. And so, the road
  • Transforms in his magician’s gesturing hand
  • From tired commute into the elusive goal.
  • I can almost smell the apples and the hay
  • Through those windows when they glide like butter down
  • With barely a touch of my finger at the door.
  • And miles of rolling wheels beneath the play
  • Of well-oiled pistons brush with the breath of a gown
  • As he steers me into the cool shade of the store.
John Gallagher

John Gallagher holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Dallas. He and his family live in the Northwest.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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