After That

By Primus St. John Primus St. John
Every story has its lean meat
and its solid church
so he started to rape her for years.
However, owls close their eyes
in the daytime
because they’re awake all night,
and she waited for him
at the handle of his hunting knife
the bells ringing afterward
with the kind of lust
she’s always known.
After that her flights were silent
and her voice, of rats and mice.
I don’t understand sorcery or omens
even eyes as penetrating as hers,
but under her feathers
and all along the tips of her flight
where she’s let me touch her,
I’ve kissed her fright.

Primus St. John, “After That” from Communion: Poems 1976-1998. Copyright © 1999 by Primus St. John. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townshend, WA 98368-0271,

Source: Communion: Poems 1976-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1999)

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Poet Primus St. John

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Men & Women, Relationships

 Primus  St. John


Primus St. John was born in New York City in 1939. For more than 30 years he has lived in Oregon and taught at Portland State University. He is one of the inaugurators of the national Poets in the Schools program, the editor of two anthologies, and the author of several collections of poetry, for which he has received an Oregon Book Award and a Western States Book Award. Three of these books have been collected together, along . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Men & Women, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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