The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


John Veinberg

The Recluse


He’ll boil his milk

by the candle flames—

lock himself away from the dogs

who copulate behind

the Cathedral of Praise.

So he won’t wake to hatred,

he’ll panel his windows

and when Mother dies

no one can tell him why.

On his birthday

he’ll bring out a picture of Christ

being held in the arms of a woman

who’s dressed up for a special occasion

and he’ll wonder

how much it must burn

to have that thin rim of light

follow and simmer

so closely to his flesh.

In the cloister of shadows

he’ll question the darkness

until it forces him to his knees

and on his deathbed

will proclaim to a woman

dragging a carpet up the stairs

that he’s studied a cruel and forgotten

subject, that it all starts in the womb

and ends there

and there’s not much left

to be sorry about.




JON VEINBERG  (1947-2017) studied poetry at Fresno State University. He is widely regarded as one of the finest, most compelling and original poets of The Fresno School. He was a longtime practitioner in the field of
mental health and was a beloved figure. He authored five full length collections of verse. The American Journal of Poetry was honored to publish a memorial to Mr. Veinberg in Volume Three of the review, composed by his great friend Christopher Buckley and Mr. Veinberg’s wife, the author, activist and artist, Dixie Salazar.

These words of his now apply to Jon himself: “You walk with the spirits…lightning sparks the dark spaces between the stars.”



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