John C. Mannone

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Morning of the Fourth Day

On my windshield frost, a galaxy
spins its crystal arms, ice fingers
branch with their own kind of suns,
reflects the starburst glare of dawn.
I imagine crystal palaces beyond
the glass—silent, unseen, yet felt
and not cold, its glow, transparent
coming from the other side of heaven.

Feeding the Hungry

Soup kitchens are always crowded
with the hungry, and on certain days,
dressed as best as they could with
what they got on their backs,
they’d shuffle in through the doors;
someone would greet them, show
them to their seats. The air was foul
but the fresh odor of prayers was like
ladled soup in white bowls filling
the air with salty savor. Someone
would give the word, and the quiet
cook in the kitchen broke the bread,
poured out red wine for the special
celebration that Easter, as in so many
other churches.

This past week at a sandwich shop,
a man with a clean smile helped me
clear the trash off my table. I smiled
back, thanked him. Then he paused,
made his calculated move to beg me
for money. Awkward. And his stench
betrayed his homelessness. It gagged
me. Quickly I searched for the change
in my heart, but I found nothing
in my pockets. I was sick to my stomach
as he walked away because I knew
I stunk more in my Lord’s nostrils.

We were all invited to a wedding
supper, but instructed to leave
our dirty clothes at the door,
to put on the clean, fresh garments
of praise (our filthy rags
of self-righteousness should be burned)
and our feet washed
with the Word leaving a fragrance
of brotherly love. We the hungry.

John C. Mannone has poems appearing/accepted in the 2020 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, North Dakota Quarterly, The Menteur, and others. His poetry won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest (2020). He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature. A retired physics professor, he lives near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Photo Credit: “ice on car windshield” by James B Brauer.

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