John Maher: We List the Things We Do Not Believe In

John Maher: We List the Things We Do Not Believe In
Fineas Anton

Fineas Anton

Christmas Lights

On the wall they cast
a self in haloed
purple rings and
blue ignes fatui
slipped onto primer
never painted over.

The throw on the bed
is frayed. We list the
things we do not
believe in. These,
they must be that
which is behind all
light in the house.



The dragonfly
as the ocean
floats on seaweed
its stick tail
flicking quickly
wings rimmed
with caught sun 

the long salted
sand shore
licked by waves
with their murmurs
the seaweed dried in
a blackgreen coat
damp-bellied still
where the larvae
now will uncurl

Narcissus and Goldmund


When at morning I enter again the world around my eyelids
I taste wine hot in my throat and think of you, Goldmund. 

For me, it is not enough to feel the blood that floats in
the arms, or chestnut leaves brushing cool on my face. 

You captured me in wood as if that were what I am.
My pine eyes glorify the God you would not know.

Evening. Again the wine, again his face hovers before me.
Mountains are swept orange under ciborium of sky.


His eyelashes brush over the opening of her ear with a
sound of rustled rushes. Each light stroke will lead 

to arched shoulder, curled back, opened lips.
When their tongues touch he will want to talk about God, 

but what else is there to say? Tiny hairs move
to the tune of a wind fluting the dry stalks 

in a place where loving has nothing to do with love.
Lapis eyes swim with the rolling wave of sky.


Open Letter I


That time you spent in your bed
         tonguing your split lip as a shadow-

 branch danced in orange streetlight
              on the unfamiliar ceiling of your room,

sweating under the cold sheets,
               scratching long behind your knee,

did you hear night in long steps
             slink around too-tall bookshelves

and your hollow chest of drawers?
             did you feel it paw over your back 

and slip through a closed window
              back out into an unknown snow?

In the morning a white covers
              the junipers but their berries

push blue through. I’ll bring
               you a cup of tea at nine, and 

a shovel. By noon we should
               have the brick walk cleared.


Editor's Note: These poems were originally featured on our old site.

John Maher is an award-winning journalist and poet living in Brooklyn, NY. He is an assistant news editor at Publishers Weekly, and co-editor of The Dot and Line. He has written for publications including Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, and The Long Island Herald, and placed work in Esquire, Hyperallergic, Entropy, The Adirondack Review, Magnapoets, The Miscreant, and Yes, Poetry, among others. His poems have been acclaimed by Mark Wunderlich as “sharp, short, and striking, notable for their control and their certainty. I admire the endings of the poems in particular, with their modest flourishes, their brandished daggers."