j o h n    d    f r y



we lifted our eyes to the hills



we lifted our eyes to the hills


we lifted our eyes to the hills how we’d lifted burnt

offerings, our hearts. as shorn things bleat, cling. for help

had not come. for our bramble-bloodied feet slipped—He

slept—shadowed by the absence of outstretched, His hand.

could stave neither solar flares nor the oxidized green

of moonglare watching over us, insomniac. we knew not

why the slow subtraction (devil’s arithmetic) of our right

wrist bones clamored, cold. as if pursued not by what, but

whom were heavy-laden we looking for, Lord, where

smoke risen from a ram’s scapula was its lampblack

psalm, to the hills we lifted our eyes, tattered antiphons.

thrumming our throats threadbare, sang deserts

away from where we were promised benediction.

our goodbyes blackened, our altars. for help had not come.




You the cradle

this world-light
crawled from

—His caul, His crown

before thorns kissed
His cry split

stable-sanctified air—

distinct, the smell of rust,
amniotic grit of afterbirth:

piss & shit

Augustine says we’re
all born between

& as He swam, so swam I

omphalos        (spirit of the
river hurry me)

unnamed, unheard before

my mother’s
shudder spoke


diptych (his hairshirt)

                                                                        but what does a god lack?

overheard in the ex voto

church-dark:        cassock’s tatter

unpolished chapel quiet, Our

Lady of the ashes long-unvisited

& a brink of dream dimly remembered

ragged, its never-mended hem:        or, a passage

chosen by dowsing rod, the illuminated

page opened impromptu, prophesying

we shall not all sleep        wilderness

                                                                        a god lacks only lack

voices cry out        but we shall

all be changed        gargoyle choir

chanting to the swallow congregation

—truesilver sometimes lies—

no monsters here but a candlelit

monstrance only a heretic adores

& the most blessed sacrament no more

than memory’s aftertaste of        reliquary bones in which restless

revenants linger like autumn

leaves swept from the narthex, unshriven


JOHN D FRY is the author the chapbook silt will swirl (NewBorder) and a recent graduate of the Texas State University-San Marcos MFA program. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offending Adam, Free Verse, Pebble Lake Review, This Spectral Evidence, and Konundrum Engine Literary Review, among others. He edits poetry for Newfound, book reviews for Front Porch, and lives in the Texas Hill Country.


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