Poetry: Selections from John Yamrus

he said:
if only 
it wasn’t all 
a struggle to make ends meet.
i wish 
there was just 
one day when i didn’t 
have to worry about bills or 
my job or how i’m gonna get thru 
the next couple weeks. 
i looked at him. 
he was young. 
didn’t know 
that things like that never end. 
they never 
completely go away. 
always there. 
and the secret 
to it all 
is to go 
and make a life around them.

it was
50 years ago, 
and i was doing an open mic 
with the local literary group, 
they were all 
very serious and artsy 
and their poems 
were precious and hammered at 
and careful 
as were 
their clothes and 
the way they walked and talked 
and as 
far as i can tell 
it was the same sad crowd,
week after week, 
reading the  same sad poems 
over and over again,
in walks me 
with my long-hair’d, 
beautiful future wife and a guitar player. 
it felt like 
everyone turned around 
to see who this new guy was, 
and the guy 
up on the stage 
stopped what he was doing,
and with a 
pretty good ad lib 
he looked at us and looked 
at his partisan crowd and said:
look who 
just walked in...
Peter, Paul and Mary!
was funny...
it stung 
and it stuck 
and it taught me 
something that i learned 
right then and there and never forgot. 
that was 
more than 50 years ago,
as far 
as i can tell, 
i’m still the only 
one still on the scene, 
still doing the deed.
and to 
quote Terry Malloy
all they ever got 
was “a one way ticket to Palookaville.”

John Yamrus’s career spans more than 50 years as a working writer. He has published 35 books (29 volumes of poetry, 2 novels, 3 volumes of non-fiction and a children’s book). He has also had nearly 3,000 poems published in magazines and anthologies around the world. A book of his selected poems was just released in Albania, translated into that language by Fadil Bajraj, who is best known for his translations of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Pound and others. A number of Yamrus’s books and poems are taught in college and university courses. His most recent book is Selected Poems: The Directors (Concrete Mist Press)


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