Many Rivers

David St. John

I speak to you like many rivers
Emptying from the heart

This is I know unattractive in a man
Yet when I speak to you in a dialect like wire

Those uneasy words meant to weaken the knees
You will know there’s nothing left to abstract

That’s not like an idea both vague & elemental
As in say the idea of us which is so

Like the conjugation of rivers
Simply at the heart of the matter

These beds of stone & shale giving up giving
Way to every senseless & untimely current

Of the wild convicted flesh

David St. John is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose and the coeditor of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of the New Poem. His awards include The Rome Prize and an Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the James D. Phelan Prize, and the O.B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize, and numerous National Endowments for the Arts Fellowships. He is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.
Originally published:
September 1, 1984


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