Jon-Michael Frank
Covering John Berryman

The Opening Words Of I

it is;

& the stage is & will be
open & does not close

in all these years, We’ve never found a better way
than through audience, to address life:

so I arrives, center & front,
to make of his monologue
what he could not make of his life:


as the black crow must & does
settle longest upon the sight
its departure derives its meaning from: I’s looking on,

though once, long ago, take note:
I appeared not as I appeared today

his fault was in
becoming himself, &

T.W. died,

& there were Sarahs after Sarahs
w/o Her, the Idiot’s lines, one Mr. Singer,
some Brittany, & then: Time,

but all characters are                  part: I

(or else,


might I realize that all of this is,
& w/o cease, will be, ceaselessly,
about love,

let us see: We must always find something to love

or, if not,


The After Party, W/ & Always Ms. Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party & I’ll Cry If I Want To / Cry If I Want To / Cry If I Want To”)

the heart’s a fate: duh-duh

& something, w/ the music, concurrently
died down in I

as outside the uneven windows
were magnolias, heavy & heaving w/ an Indian spring,
breaking in bulk from all their familiar limbs;

& We, too, have grown accustom to the same
continuing to break in bulk from familiar
limb after familiar limb after familiar limb;

I: Why do We compose w/ people
We know is, & too, like us, are going away?

& Hey Me!

what stay is worth its
equivalent away?

so much of what We are is distances:

please give Me something close
that never goes

like the pang
that proxies
this heart

but that doesn’t

it’s sad to think
the universe could be emptier than I:

& like Braille, everything had to be felt;
but there are no ends to it,
The Idiot: a truth: “We’re w/o sojourns,”

in order to quiet the heart

one must find a feeling
that cannot be made more beautiful
by human error


Jon-Michael Frank has work published or forthcoming in Anti-, Inter/rupture, Sink Review and Sixth Finch, among others. A chapbook of poems is forthcoming from Birds LLC, and another chapbook, of comics, is being released by El Aleph Press in 2014. Jon-Michael is also an assistant editor for the small press BIRDS, LLC, helps run a reading series in Austin, TX called Fun Party, and sells illustrations about life, or the lack of it, on etsy.