Fall 2017, Volume 23

Poetry by Jon Veinberg

Angel at the Greyhound Bus Depot

God must have been drunk on time
and trickery when he routed me here
to work on the souls of low-life
hucksters and panhandlers cadging
for bus fare, coffee and a cheap ride
to heaven. I would’ve had a livelier time
roaming the whores on Fresno Street,
who go to sleep with the first pollen
of light, can easily ignore the hiss of
cockroaches crisscrossing underfoot
just before they sprint beneath the
refrigerator’s bulky shoulder.

Besides, I can always see a little of their childhoods
buried behind their eyes—the popsicle
boats circling the park’s fountain,
a pair of arms lifting them up to the
patio cave to match the blue of the sky
to the robin’s egg twined with light,
and a father walking home from the night shift
in a flannel shirt, a scarred lunch pail in hand,
peeking in the kitchen window
as he tried to mimic the notes of the full
throated jay, as you tried to chase him
down across the leaf strewn lawn.

Sometimes I think God is hammering
a nail into my heart when I ask Him
if the dead really miss us and He says, no.
I’d rather baptize the whores
in an algae clustered pool reflecting
the fleecy clouds, gray as oatmeal.

First Night with the Hundred and First Love

I’ve got this trailer
freshly painted
and plenty of towels.
I don’t care
if your father was a Methodist
as long as you don’t believe
in astrology.
The sun should rise
a little differently
this morning,
perhaps smaller, kinder.
And what about those clouds
you say have a darker side?
Well, you can bet
my hocus-pocus laughter
that I’ll never shake your loneliness.
You should’ve been the first one—
under the elms shading my eyes,
all dressed up
in colors according to season
and perhaps you are,
all these years
after having followed my rain,
gathered my lies.




BIO: Jon Veinberg, poet and retired mental health therapist passed away January 8, 2017. He was born in Germany in 1947 after his family fled Soviet occupied Estonia. Around 1950, they emigrated to the United States.

Jon received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine and published five books of poetry. He was a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants in poetry and his poems appeared in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. He lived for many years in Fresno and studied under Philip Levine.