Jonathan Giles: Poetry: April 2020

My Southern legitimacy statement is as follows: I received a BA in creative writing at Penn State prior to moving to Chincoteague, VA and working as a house painter. Finding that career much too difficult, I moved to Greensboro, NC and received an MA in Theatre at UNCG. My writing career began in the Performing Arts where I worked for PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill. Subsequently, I was hired to manage a professional choir in Washington, DC, and later worked with avant-garde artist, Meredith Monk in Soho. In 1989 I joined the development staff at Duke University in Durham and received the Presidential Award in 2012 for my fundraising accomplishments. I currently host bi-monthly writers groups in fiction and poetry in Durham, where I live with my wife and cat. My poems have appeared in Main Street Rag, Avalon Literary Review, Better than Starbucks, and Delta Poetry Review and my writing can be found at Whether Southern Pennsylvania, Chincoteague, Virginia, North Carolina or South of Houston Street in New York City, the South is a compass point that has provided my life and writing with spiritual direction.

Three Poems

Sons and Moon

The moon dangles, ghost in the late afternoon, 

A pocked trophy my boy pretends to drive. 

He dreams of monster trucks 

and something cool to blow up

come Fourth of July.

At night, the moon snatches at wild grass,

lost behind a cracked 4×4, battered mailbox, 

crucified by steel-toed shoes 

and the bitter bite of a teenage-

triggered twenty-twos.

At dawn, the moon flickers,

a dented, muddied, old Silverado hubcap

driven in anger over the battered,

magenta-crusted mountain,

bruising a dark domestic sky.


Love Sonnet with a Coda  

We grew up handling Glocks

(I guess, a Southern thing),

loved the grey metal stock

as we practiced its ring.

Let’s reinvent the Glock

and give it raptors’ wings

to hunt over the blocks—

count the carnage it brings,

mask the permanent marks

as when it sweats and swings

and swiftly barks, barks, barks

no matter what bird sings.

Yes, my Glock can be a vicious thing:

A hooded condor tethered to string.

Oh, sing, sweet child, sing,

Oh, angry brother, sing, sing,

Oh, scorned lover, sing,

Oh, nervous officer—yes, you—

walking the darkened blocks,

You know what your Glock can do—

Sting, sting, sting.


I Found Your Grave in the Midday Sun

I found your grave in the midday sun,

I had grown old–

but you were still young.

Like a sad intruder, on my own

I slowly cleared the weeds from your stone

and laid down beside you in the grass–

the billowing clouds whispering past–

and thought, how happy we are at last.


But how could I think something like that?

–What did you feel about me, in fact?


Oh, I remember so clearly back

when I was young:

our blistering sun.

Back when we loved and learned the lesson

of living. But when your moment came,

I fled the torture and tearing strain–

alone in the imminent shock of

your surrender,

then shroud of your love.

Later, when I longed for another,

the pain I caused faded,


with thoughts of you crying in your grave.


Lying here now, I am unafraid.

I failed you once and pray for what comes:

kind atonement in a blazing sun.