The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


James Ellenberger



Call out, each to each, whiskeydrunk, the huntsmen.

They lounge in prowl on oak-plank platforms.

Old Granddad edges off the sermon of the hunt.

O Tawny Christ, One-That-Got-Away—

a pickup lumbers down the drive like a pallborn casket.

Anointed with doe estrus, the huntsmen brain
dream 16-points (O Elusive

Rack, Holy Rood) on barstools, their last-call beers
warm as tongues.

                                   Feral our Lord, the gut shot
followed into the field and then beyond the field,

the blood’s trail dead-ending in the thornheft
of blackberry bushes.

There’s whiskey enough, blood,
to retell it proper:

                        the afternoon when Christ (steadied
in the cross, halfway to butcher, to game room)

                                                                        got away.

There’s an untouched spot on the wall for His crown.



James Ellenberger

Five Loaves and Two Fishes


Five loaves and two fishes, small ones,

contain within their atoms the potential

for absolute creation; o to become

five loaves and two fishes, small ones,

and be contained within Adam’s potential.


As love, when it finds us, comes torrential,

comes costly and inconsiderate, how often

we’ve been broken so that those around us

may yet go hungry:


                         isthmus, o boarding plank,


                         we’re standing at the edge,


we’re starving,

we aren’t convinced of having

bodies at all

and touch our ribs like we’ve swallowed harps.



James Ellenberger

The Age of Stout Foundations


I flipped through the color book of omens

(eggshell, off-white, and opaline),


comparing each page to my own swatches

of circumstance, of good luck and bad.


I was then the saint of mis-swung hammers

singing skyward a lineage of expletives.


In the age of stout foundations, I arranged

my troubles like finger bones in a cement mixer.




JAMES ELLENBERGER's  poems have appeared in Sou’Wester, Painted Bride Quarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Passages North, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among others. He’s pursuing a PhD at the University of Cincinnati, where he works as an assistant editor for the Cincinnati Review.



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