Always wanting something like balance,
weighing on us; they are the reason
for harbingers. And they are chosen,
the living, the best we can expect
in this world. They make us cry more
than the dying. They make a ruckus
and take a long time to learn to walk.
We have to wait for them to keep up
in cemeteries or any earthwork
as if they all were elderly.
The good thing about the living
is that you cannot make them alive.
Their inconsistent work cannot
be measured with scales and clocks.
With their black coats and white collars,
to ascend they must descend first.
Full of feeling, a part of nature,
malleable as earth, hemmed, warmed
by the painstaking order of their play,
they believe they know what they do.
John Poch’s most recent book, Fix Quiet, won the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared widely in journals such as Paris Review, Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, and Five Points. He teaches in the English Department at Texas Tech University.