Three Poems by John Toone

New Work

shaking (his head)

shrug it off by asking
what’s happening over
his side of the fence

nothing, ordinary
like i don’t know no better
normal, little new, and you

cover trash day and kids’ activities
but now and forever
his look changes when

i deliver the goods (why this?  i was shot in the woods.)
and when i head for home there he is, still

no sign of game

blood like ketchup chip
at the corners of the mouth
persistent with that
sweet salty lick and “what
harm is there in it?”

those types.  trophies hoisted into the truck bed
against the spare tire and blue liquid.
instead, three across the bench seat with silent features
fixed far from harm’s way, racing . . .
i am admitted into care

tell it cold (the truth is “other” wise)
like they were never there or will be
and it’s not the same again.
forget what’s happened.  like they said
it scars over and disappears before you know it


bottoms of empties
shot back, chattering at the neighbours
inviting them to dance

going off on the television
until someone steps in way
swears he’ll settle it later

that half-hour before black out
movement, fever, and the slip of a finger
when bang it hits me

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John Toone

John Toone is the author of Fishin' For Dumbasses (Great Plains, 2014), and a book of poems, From Out of Nowhere (Turnstone, 2009), in addition to several children's books. Please visit