Sole Blessing

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
To say screw them, to be screw-them
bent on one thing all but lost,
one music or mystery,
beyond all the necessary
incidental snaggings of the heart;

to train the whole soul’s beam
on a solitary hill, or on it
a special kind of rock or creeper;
to be sated just by saxophone;
to want nothing but your eyes

lifelong to study Scottish otters:
the snub, slippery-whiskered snout;
the way they intertwine in threes
at play, indistinguishably bound,
long sleek backs submerging away...

To make of this your being’s aim,
its joy, and know by pulse and viscus
the word joy. No gifts but thine
to thyself: thou canst, if thou list,
single out, make good, one wish.

This from the dumb lips of an old god
who with one endless, misty hand
holds out to us too much to love,
and with the other—crooked-fingered,
crazed with veins—some nights and days.

“Sole Blessing” from Misery Prefigured by J. Allyn Rosser. © 2001 by J. Allyn Rosser; reproduced by permission of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Source: Misery Prefigured (Southern Illinois University Press, 2001)

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Poet J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Relationships, Love, Religion, God & the Divine, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 J. Allyn Rosser


J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), winner of the Morse Poetry Prize; Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award; Foiled Again, winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize; and Mimi's Trapese (2014). Her poetry has also been published in such periodicals as . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Religion, God & the Divine, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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