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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 23, 2018.
About this Poem 

“Those late-night, before-dawn conversations we once had routinely with friends when young later become inadvertent accountings of what’s been gained, but also of what’s been lost, along the way—those unexpected human expenses exacted by and paid to experience.”
—David St. John

Before Dawn

You ask me again this evening
          at what price

Does wisdom finally come
          in any life

Or at any age & now I think
          I know

The answer swear to me that
          when I tell you   

It is only everything you believe 

You will travel as far from this city
          as you can before

The streets grow smeared & lost
          to the smug

& promiscuous coming of the day




Copyright © 2018 by David St. John. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by David St. John. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

David St. John

David St. John

David St. John is the author of over ten collections of poetry, including Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems (Perennial, 1994), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

One snowy night I was smiled upon by Russian gods
          & found myself at dinner opposite

The Moscow scholars a married couple—he only
          the world’s authority on Pasternak

& she the final word on her beloved Alexandr Blok
          & as we talked

2
poem
It was there, in that little town
On top of the mountain, they walked,
Francesco and Chiara,
That's who they were, that's what
They told themselves—a joke, their joke
About two saints, failed lovers held apart
From the world of flesh, Francis and Clare,
Out walking the old city, two saints,
Sainted ones, holy,
poem
              It was in the old days,
When she used to hang out at a place
                        Called Club Zombie,
A black cabaret that the police liked
         To raid now and then. As she
              Stepped through the door, the light
         Would hit her platinum hair,
And believe me, heads