Poem for Your Pocket: Justin Hamm


Justin Hamm, Lessons in Ruin book coverApril 30 is Poem for Your Pocket Day, and the end of National Poetry Month. Here’s a poem for your pocket by Justin Hamm, who was featured here at Escape Into Life as a photographer with a poet’s eye!

“Last Lesson in Ruin” was first published in Oxford Magazine and comes from Hamm’s book Lessons in Ruin (Kelsay Books, Aldrich Press, 2014). Book cover art by Jane Carlson.

Happy Poem for Your Pocket Day from EIL!

Last Lesson in Ruin

Of all things, barn is holiest.
Barn is crumbling red shaman;
it is old wood and old wood is
porous and good for drinking
up the old man’s confessions.

Every scarecrow in tattered
fatigues has his war story
to send up to the gods. Step
forward, scarecrow, and walk
where your knees get lost
in snakegrass and cockleburs.

Ruined things stow away inside
a stout magic of forgiveness.
Find the rusted grain bins. Find
the tractor’s bones. Find where
the old women once worked
afternoons behind the clothesline,
faces like influenza, faces carved
from terrible ancient rocks.

Find the house, find the barn.
No need to worry—it knows you.
It knows why you have come home.



Justin Hamm’s Website

Lessons in Ruin

Justin Hamm at EIL

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