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  • Writer's pictureLammergeier Staff

Two Poems | John Michael Bloomquist

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

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,

two corpses


humped up from the dirt.

Jerusalem encompassed in Rome

wades with its ocean lines,

wind-worn widows,

oblong sheep.

— 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



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