I Went to a Wedding Once by J. Rod Pannek

I Went to a Wedding Once
—for David and Lesli

The bride
stood silent, as if
she had a great question
the oracle had yet
to resolve.

I am sure she trembled
at the coda and rustled
her bouquet, wondering
where her hem was falling
against her leg or what
the man next to her thought
about the way she answered.

The children in the front
row coughed and scribbled
throughout the day.
The other guest were wary
of convention but nodded
in agreement with every
word from Ecclesiastes.

The groom wanted
to fix the carpet that had
pulled apart along
the step to the altar
and smooth the ruffle
on the minister’s sleeve.
He had it in him to make
things better and wondered
yet what the outcome might be.

Outside, under the planed
Texas sky, where couples left
in cars and remembered
moments spent leaning against
an oak or relished on a sofa,
single men disdained
the law and girls held
ceremony in contempt.

Now, at home, I finish my beer
and scrape at my plate,
while Byzantine December
and her inherent jostling,
try once again to pull back
the curtain on certain miracles.

We are all Psalmist, I concede,
when confronted with
accidental beauty,
when the clouds cleave
and we realize that the person
we are standing next to
fills every vessel with
their soul.

by J. Rod Pannek

Editor’s Note: The careful and detailed imagery of this poem slowly pulls the reader through the speaker’s thoughts of ceremony, and what meaning our rituals perform, while trying to describe the indescribable.

Best of the Net Nominations – 2017


I am happy to announce the following poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net 2017:

Abiding Winter by Risa Denenberg

Affidavit by Terri Muuss

The Balance Between Us by James Diaz

Bone-Chilled by Martin Willitts Jr.

Poem Only Half About Myself by J. Rod Pannek

Tuesday Morning by George Longenecker


Poem Only Half About Myself by J. Rod Pannek

Poem Only Half About Myself

I can smell
the melancholia in the bedsheets,
Rumpled feelings all around,
Everyone looking down at mouth.
The dog still licks her wound,
Hidden in the shadow of the desk.
There is no sense of release,
Yet we look around and hope.

“Go in fear of abstractions” of course, but what then?
I can’t expect the clock to stop as if it were my father’s heart.
The hedgerow stands with its roots unearthed,
Somewhere my mother calls and I bring my shovel.
I expect I will still rebel long after I cover them.

I expect I will still obey them.
Everything that happens to me happens to my friends.
After all that, we sit back and wonder
What the doctor will say about our liver
Or some other piece of the infernal apparatus
That wasn’t even hurting when we walked in.

The doctor still walks through the door,
Your mother’s hand, venial and soothing,
Comforts you and the tendencies of middle-age
Yet after a while she tears at your shirt
And you become her Confessor.

by J. Rod Pannek

Guest Editor’s Note: The speaker in this meditative poem pauses to take a breath in the middle of the passage from birth to grave, evoking both the gift and the loss of coming into maturity.

Please welcome Guest Editor Catherine Rogers from April 3-7, 2017.

From the archives – Journal Notes on Birth — J. Rod Pannek

Journal Notes on Birth

—for Bethany Ann Routt

February has always seemed to me
proof of the butterfly effect,

mid February, most of all,
false Spring and tepid landscape,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .a graying of the architecture,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .the dullness of winter’s last breath.

dependant on sight, untrusting of nature’s lever,
her ability to astound when least expected. . .
We grow to like the safety of the dark, the empty
habits of January, trusting
not in spring but the relapse of color.

43 years,
I haven’t figured it out yet.
Every day I write it down in the morning
and forget it by lunch. Scrawling on the mirror
beside a face I don’t recall.
. . . . . . . .“Enlightened we are born . . . ignorant we pass.”

Later in March, the truth is revealed.
What was hidden explodes and the young

rule the land. Expatriate blooms and startled soil.
Every stilled and invalid thing, mooning and heedless,
silly in their attainment of hue, mindless of the future, seeking
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .height and feigning eternity.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 6 — by J. Rod Pannek

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim