Paul Sladky

The Day John Lennon Died

We spent the afternoon making love
on Flannery O’Connor’s bed,
ambling through the spring-fed pond
in the upstairs history of the world,
the crutches leaning on the bookcase
in the shadows of the green and purple hat,
and both of us wearing all our clothes

Somehow we managed to steer clear
of that forbidden providence,
except the brief moment I passed my shoe 
to you across the table 
and our thumbs paused, 
as if to understand the thirty years
we would not let ourselves transcend

John Lennon might have written in a song,
had he lived,
for Flannery, 
had she,
that speed can trip a cautious pony,
that water feels fast but rises slow,
that the gatekeeper, even if you lose the key,
will still grant entry to the willing

And Flannery, for John, might have written 
a cathedral for squandered love 
where on your knees 
you can lose yourself on the river
in order to find yourself,
no matter how fast the water’s rising,
in the mystery of another mind

John and Flannery,
not Yoko, 
standing naked on that cover 
holding hands, 
as our uncloaked bodies
rise from the shadows of 
the green and purple hat 
to converge


I have graduate degrees in linguistics and creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin and have been a Working Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. I published one story in Beloit Fiction Journal, and, after life’s uncooperative interventions, am now just setting out to publish my work.