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From "Nocturnes" by J.T. Whitehead

Nocturne No. 11

She went to the clinic before the Sun came up, making day, before the protesters came out with the Sun, simple hunters, & not knowing which of those stars had died, so many years before . . .


Nocturne No. 12

The Sun paints the rustic patio into a rusty red patina.

The Sun has finally killed the remnant shadows left by Night.

The Sun is the red knight, lancing the black knight.


Nocturne No. 16

My son, in his book about nocturnal animals, wrote:

How to live in the Dark? Simple. Rest in the crack of a tree.

Who? Who? Who?


Nocturne No. 18.

My lantern runs on batteries. For me it’s a nuclear reactor.

I imagine oil fields on fire, gas at ten dollars, war in Iran or Pakistan.

I write this running the fan, thoughts lighting up dark fears.


Nocturne No. 24

The big blank television screen stares out like a squid’s eye.

Cold comes in through the porch screens like a last breath.

Statues of Buddha & Christian crosses amplify notions of reach.


Nocturne No. 28

We are not just figures of speech, this long winter,

leaving work – in the dark, coming home – in the dark,

awakening – in the dark.


Nocturne No. 46

Naming space puts a human face 

on something that lies beyond our place.

We should call our moon “the moon.”


Nocturne No. 48

I count at night.  I write.  I matter.  

I count the savings, the college funds, debts.  I count.

The stars appear like a cartoon knock-out.  Again, I count.



J.T. Whitehead studied Existentialism and Eastern Philosophy at Purdue where he received an MA in philosophy. He spent time between schools on a grounds crew, as a pub cook, a writing tutor, a teacher’s assistant, a delivery man, a book shop clerk, and a liquor store clerk, inspiring four years as a labor lawyer on the workers’ side. Whitehead was Editor in Chief of So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, briefly, for issues 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Over 250 of Whitehead’s poems have been accepted for print in 100 literary journals, and he is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and short story author. Whitehead won the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize in 2015 for his poem “War Games” (Mas Tequila Review). His book The Table of the Elements (The Broadkill River Press) was nominated for the National Book Award in 2015. Whitehead lives in Indianapolis with his two sons, Daniel and Joseph.

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