A Parallax Reading by John-Michael Bloomquist


Origen is writing another letter

at his desk to the bishop:

when you pray

and lock the door, it will stay


worlds grow in this,

mummified like a palm tree

wrapped in thick bands of bark,

trunk to green folds, needles at the clouds—

those bowls of rice

for rain— your prayer

scratching heaven at the back

of its throat. As the last light


laces the dusty roads of Palestine,

he stops writing to fill his lamp

with the peanut oil his aunt sends

each month, in jars dipped in tar.

He does not know how these letters

read years from now, like a prayer

unanswered: a prayer granted:


when Christ told the disciples to cast

their nets on the other side

of the boat—

callused hands roping water

for more water, he was

tricking them into 

the net, again—

try catching nothing.


Origen wants nothing

more than to die a martyr,

to follow his father

to the mouth of God,

where he is certain everything

vanishes in return, has already

dispersed— the supernova

of a coruscating charka:

the pomegranate split

on the ground, the sparrows

eating the celluloid seeds,

their wings beating

the dust to a pulse.

John-Michael Bloomquist is a student at Arizona State University. His poems have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly and Bloodlotusjournal.com and are forthcoming in The Southeast Review and The South Dakota Review.