the endless blocks of dulled-blood
Brick rowhouses surrounding the few hills
Leading to the Baltimore Museum at the edge
Charles Village where the secrets of Hampton
through the legacies of families departed
Out of their Appalachian pasts some of them starch eaters
& some junkies with some posing for the one
pornographer the money they made
enough to keep their mother in smack
A few more weeks then the cops came for
All of them & the dumb porches & the narrow stairways
the closeness of people piled up on top of one another
In the summers as the Bay seasoning & red cayenne pepper
the crabs the buttery color of brick.
St. John was born in Fresno, California, in 1949, and educated at
California State University, Fresno, where he received his B.A.
In 1974, he received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He is
the author of many books of poetry, including Hush (1976), No Heaven
(1985), and Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems (1994).
His awards include the Discover/The Nation prize, the James D. Phelan
Prize, and the Prix de Rome fellowship in literature. He has also
received several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and
a Guggenheim Fellowship. St. John currently teaches in the English
Department at University of Southern California, Los Angeles. His
most recent books are The Red Leaves of Night (1999) and In the
Pines: Lost Poems 1972-1997 (1999).