Shifting, Too Anxious to Be Fully Aware – Jonathan Yungkans

after John Ashbery

What could I say of a young Polish woman that January?
I was barely a year into college, on my first time abroad,

felt out of my depth. She worked the hotel dining room,
met me for coffee to practice English. My words faltered.

What could I say about watching London snow, first time
in 33 years, orange juice cartons cooling on a window sill,

drivers skiding white roads gray? Not about the Jameson’s
I downed in Windsor—the morning a chilled side of beef,

and me feeling hung on a freezer hook. After it, I reeled
a good part of the afternoon but stayed warm. Didn’t tell

a soul about Stratford-upon-Avon, where two Bobbies
tailed me—streets empty, shop windows dark, me feeling

the bottle of red wine drunk with dinner and deathly afraid
of a tourist trip of jail. Didn’t mention the trip to Wales—

hung over, I yearned for a deluge long as five summers
to wash Wordsworth and Tintern Abbey down a mountain

brook. As if nouns were stones, torn from cathedral walls
to drop and envelop me—a collapse followed by stillness.

J YungkansJonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA in Poetry from California State University, Long Beach. His work has appeared in Oyster River Pages, San Pedro Poetry Review, West Texas Literary Review and other publications. His poetry chapbook, Colors the Thorns Draw, was released by Desert Willow Press in August 2018.