John Kohls

On the Brow of Legend

Ab urbe condita
“From the founding of the City”
“Which is what City?”
I smirk insipidly. “Rome.”
The room returns to the quiet
of the professor’s voice.
The weight of a minute
becomes drowning ship and dying star,
slides now a blurred collage.
The blend of soft music
and the senescence of Latin
rent wide the floor beneath me.
The classroom becomes the abyss
of memory. In memory.
In memoriam. Wilted and wearied, wallowing in woeful
xeroderma pigmentosum, a mouthful of
yearly digested chewing tobacco exemplified
zero, not as a percentage but rather a colloquial concept.
Queerly, in a sense of non-lectured vernacular, our gaze
readily broke, a rickets ridden gangplank
snapped by discomposure and despondence:
two eyes sans vitality.
Homoeoteleuton. My childhood rhyme?
Lemon drops and gumdrops and
my mouth gaping wide at the
noose induced prices of
one business shanghaied.
The memory is muted, colorless
until I remember the exchange.
“Can I get it, Mom? It’s so creepy!”
At length she asserted, “No son of mine
will be scaring Rook with that thing.
Dalmatians don’t understand Halloween.”
Sweetness passing so quickly.
By the next October, 021 Watercourse Ave.
had been thoroughly replaced
by a widely erected edifice
dedicated to bath salts and spa treatments.
Fuzzy recollections of a filthy confectionary
and a haphazard placement of costumes
conjures the image: a farmer’s face. Ensnared between
kinky bustieres and elongated opaque cloaks, the
atypical demarcated facial creases possessed the mask
with a distinct humanity.
The fluid behind corrective lenses
clarifies the collage: meaning,
in all its hideous bleeding colors.
The weight of pure significance
carries a burden fuller than
a minute’s blood-letting
or everlasting paralysis.
The plastic mask is my father’s
gravestone, his resting place
within the shadow realm of my mind.
In memory, Rook is barking and my
brother is laughing in a wheelchair.
The house is isolated happiness.
In memoriam, the freckled man’s
face in the hand of a child
who will never become half the mask.
The cheeky protuberance,
a caricatured feature rooted in social typecasting,
folded me into my brother’s arms, the breeze
drifting in from the crop fields and the odor from his tin
a welcome melancholy.
Absens haeres non erit
“An absent person will not be an heir”
I look down at my desk and rub away
The meaning from my eyes.



John Kohls is a Criminal Justice student at the University of Wisconsin Platteville. For his drive to pursue fiction and poetry as a hobby, he credits his exposure to many cowboy and Native American poets and writers at a young age through his family’s involvement in the Gila Valley Arts Council in Arizona. He plans to return to the Southwest whenever possible, his work often inspired by the terrestrial majesty and desolation of his desert roots.