John Cross
     A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, John Cross’s chapbook Staring at the Animal recently won the Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Series Award.
     John Cross’s poems are crisp and elegant and ingenious gems as smart and uncompromising as Bartok’s string quartets. “Wing shards” are “cooked in a star”; “the moon returns its borrowed light.” Anachronisms abound. Antigone sits uncomfortably and comfortably close to Baghdad and Kabul. “The green lies watchful.” There is a “quiet that will never / Be silenced.” John Cross bends the language, stretches it, twists it, squeezes it, pummels it, and the outcome is poems that strike like a magnitude 7.5 quake. But you’ve got to listen; as William Carlos Williams (I believe) said to his wife, you’ve got to try. Because these are poems that emerge from the unconscious or preconscious mind and call out to our unconscious or preconscious minds. They are poems that hit with the force of expressionist paintings. Nothing is ever obvious in this world; we’re presented with hints, shadows, fragments, intimations, insinuations.  It’s not, however, a puzzle we’re meant to piece together; rather, it’s life and art and tragedy seen through a very unusual pair of eyes. 

When the Water in the Skin was Gone

Looking for an unmutilated place—
At every periphery lies
Something terribly roadside

: God’s footprint—
A hole
Big enough for child-house

: A quiet that will never
Be silenced—
From an arid landscape

Driven toward fire

Originally published in Staring at the Animal, Tupelo Press, 2009. 

2010 John Cross
John Cross was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the April 2010 Second Sunday Poetry Series