Jeffrey Essmann

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“Epiphany,” read by Jeffrey Essmann.


The silence of the holy name
should catch us unaware,
should shift the light
to the grayish bright
of eclipse.

The lips of God
should brush our ear
as the buzz
of an August noon,
the pen freeze
on the whiting page,
and a black ant dance
(in glory)
in the corner.

And we should get up
or stay;
or check our phone;
scream the mystery
into the heat
or never say another word

I Asked Her How She Was

and bad she said
not good
not good at all

and i
i’m not complaining
but i
i just don’t think
i’m going to be
here for long

both my sisters died this year
you know
i’m the last
i’m the only one left
i’m all alone
and i’m
i’m so afraid
i’m just afraid

thirty-four nieces
and nephews
i’ve got
and none of them call
none of them
not a one

and you know
you know I wouldn’t do anything
to myself
i wouldn’t do that
i’d never do that
but i…

she said again
and shook her head
and went back to her puzzle

Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America MagazineDappled Things, the St. Austin ReviewU.S. Catholic, The Road Not Taken, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the “Catholic Poetry Room” page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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Artwork: “The Mother of Sisera Looked Out a Window” by Albert Joseph Moore, 1861 (Public Domain).

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