Two Poems | John Michael Bloomquist
Updated: Jan 26
Elegy for the Sojourner
The broad hall of a communist era hospital
imposes permanence without majesty, magnitude
without royal trim. Drinking hot water from a wax
lined cup with a lemon wedge, we wait with the potted plants
that grow to meet the twelve-foot-high windows—
birds of paradise and monstera deliciosa. Some must be as old
as Stalin’s ever-growing mustache. On the windowsill
a couple pigeons coo. Across the parking lot more
communist era flats, pasty white and thick. One has a balcony
where dumb cane and lilies grow like blue veins along
the backs of hands in the hospital, sheer cliffs of prayer.
Bare as a grey mouse eating in safety, nibbling her Eucharist,
Victoria’s grandmother sits in one of the beds, passing on
the memory of when she was sent to Germany to cook
for an SS officer’s wife during the war. After, she had to walk
back through all the waste for two months to this small
town outside Krakow. The priest makes her laugh,
saying his cold got better after he rubbed vodka on his chest,
a Russian trick. He grew up as the rubble
resurrected into these blocks of occupation. One flat
has a faded mural advertising a boy smiling
with a glass of milk and pearly white teeth. In the old regime,
uselessness was a crime against the people. In the current
world order, productivity is the golden mean.
My wife’s grandmother is a little lower than the angels,
almost unreal, yet still defying those borders.
Christ’s Body Carried to the Tomb
—after the painting by Tadeusz Zak
Golgotha in the background,
humped up from the dirt.
Jerusalem encompassed in Rome
wades with its ocean lines,
— The ark of earth. Throne of the
among the dust, the
faithful in his wake.
John-Michael Peter Bloomquist lives in the DC area with his family in a house run by their needy black cat, Sir Zbigniew Herbert the IX. He is the author of Rocket Celestial (White Stag, 2023), and he has been published in Nimrod, Heavy Feather Review, and Third Coast, among others. He has also been anthologized in And Blue Will Rise Over Yellow: An International Poetry Anthology for Ukraine (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2023). You can find him wanting to believe in aliens at john-michaelpbloomquist.com