Primus St. John was born in New York City, New York, in 1939. He attended the University of Maryland and Lewis and Clark College. His collections of poetry include Communion: Poems, 1976-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1999), which won the Western States Book Award; Dreamer (1990), which received the 1990 Hazel Hall Award for Poetry; Love is Not a Consolation: It is a Light (1982); and Skin on the Earth (1976). He is also the editor of the anthologies From Here We Speak (1993) and Zero Makes Me Hungry (1976). His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Through the National Endowment for the Arts, St. John helped to initiate the Poet's in the Schools Program. He has been a professor at Portland State University for more than thirty years, teaching English literature and creative writing. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
At the edge of the forest In the middle of the darkness There is a hand, As cold as copper, Like a river Stretched over wide stones. Despite the hard rocks And the furious wind I love her Like a flock of birds Or a mild herd come to drink For the exquisite rage And sleek moss of her art. There is something about a poem That is violent That is just another way to die, Each time we realize our mysteries We are weakened. When I am writing I often scatter Across a lascivious empire Of passionate flowers. They all seem so subversive Even the ones with all their clothes on They are so obsessed with the minute Implication of who they are. I believe if there is a struggle It should go on Where real lovers are. I no longer regret That I have smelted into one piece For the sake of this poem.