The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Virginia Konchan



Gather your things.  Gather thy thou.

All aboard the train to nowhere, 

where we will be guided by a weathervane,


a freak show, a nun.  Allow the passenger

pigeons to pass.  This life is an intoxicant,

which can be traded for another substance


less heady, champagne bubbles

rising like the dew point of hysteria.

Here in the white room, we will


decide between illness as metaphor

and metaphor as illness.  All stimuli

will be first analyzed, then denied.


I implore you to remember the ocean,

the Great Barrier Reef.  Holy unrest, 

the eighth wonder of the world.


The longing to be pure is over.
I stand along the promontory,
looking out, like a B actress,

on the great horizon
at the unseen white whale,
the philosopher’s stone.

I interrupt my programming
to say something original.
Show me the way to go home.



Virginia Konchan



Poem as penance, straw man.
Poem as ineluctable stain.
Against the high tide of not yet
comes the underground current
of always already here.
The desire is for repetition,
pattern-formation.  The desire
is that you’d carry the albatross
while I sun momentarily
in the abyss, like a decorated
soldier.  So much depends upon
the brain, upshot of intelligence
being the way an erudite sentence
snakes through the mind before
coming to rest—or is it pose—gently
on a promontory.  Just for effect.
Just to test the imported liquor
of style and subjectivity.  Because
it’s un-American not to smile
for the cameras, wave your flag.
Poem as antibiotic, virus, strain.
We’ll never reach the summit.
We’ll never, like this, be born again.




VIRGINIA KONCHAN is the author of a collection of poetry, The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017), and two chapbooks, including That Tree is Mine (dancing girl press, 2017).  Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Best New Poets.  Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, and Associate Editor for Tupelo Quarterly, she teaches at Marist College.



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