A Nocturnal Upon Saint Charles Yeager’s Day

Here comes that sonic boom
thumping at the chest like a kickdrum
the first and final beat of a tune called
Too Late. Ever too late the event
reveals its narrative to the sense
ever too slow on the uptake,
ever life hurtles heartbreak to heartbreak
while I rattle around in its mach-cone
trying to work out the ever-aftermath.


To the palm that rests atop the trembling
diaphragm, not to calm but to confirm
the body’s record, all this shock and roar
is a comfort. After such rough cleavings—
molecule from molecule, the sound shorn
back from the air and stacked upon itself—
there should be noise. There should be a bombblast
bellknocking bonejar of noise, a jolt
to all wavelengths, a tremor through the pavement
tripping car-alarms and dog-howls to the proof
that something happened.


Something happened. Something wider than the sky
got broken, something faster than a word
arrowed into it. That damned and blessed sonic boom
will roll on past me down the road, drumming up
the next dirge by the time I know to mourn
whatever it was.



Kimberly Johnson is the author of two collections of poetry, Leviathan with a Hook (Persea Books, 2002) and A Metaphorical God (Persea Books, 2008). In 2009, Penguin Classics published her translation of Virgil’s Georgics, under the title The Georgics: A Poem of the Land. Her poetry, translations, and scholarly essays have appeared widely in publications including The New Yorker, Slate, Ploughshares, and Modern Philology.

Issue #1 July 2011
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