Featured Writer

John G. Rodwan, Jr.

Publishing313 is proud to feature the work of John G. Rodwan in its featured writer series. John is an accomplished poet and essayist from Detroit. John's poetry has appeared in journals such as Avalon Literary Review, Black Magnolias, The Chaffey Review, Hoot & Hare Review, Meat for Tea, Midwestern Gothic, Pacific Review, Pudding Magazine, San Pedro River Review, Thin Air and Trickster. His poems have also appeared in the anthologies Remaking Moby-Dick and Verse/Chorus: A Call and Response Anthology.

For more information on John, visit his website, www.rodwanwrites.wordpress.com.


A pitbull can get
distracted by butterflies:
not a metaphor.


After thunder clapped me awake
the glow of recharging phone
and continued twirl of fan
reassured that the storm –
whatever other damage
it might have done –
did not topple
the next door neighbors’ immense and
crumbly old cottonwood trees and
tear down electric power lines
as I expect will happen
whenever it rains.

As a lay in bed awake
listening as cars
tear down slick wet night streets
with no hint of pause at stop signs
I await the crunch of metal and
dice roll clatter of safety glass chunks
I expect to hear
almost every night.

Once resigned to being awake
and until sunlight sneaks around
curtain edges and removes
any reason for remaining in bed
I rewind and review the reel of disasters –
natural and man-made –
that runs on loop in my mind
almost every night.

After nights spent mostly awake
twisting, tossing and thinking
my wife reminds me that my inability
to sleep worsens when seasons
change which may be true
but one thing I know for sure
is that I worry about those
damn trees and power lines whenever it rains.

Out of Step at the Right Time

Somehow I’d thought
the feeling of being both
out of step with the world
(which Minor Threat barked about
in 1983)
and having been born at the right time
(which Paul Simon sang about
in 1990)
would end with age

that I’d move to one or the other
of those poles
either uncomprehending misfit
or fortunate son
of privilege I can’t deny.

yet decades after those songs
put parentheses around my youth
I know I’ve been damn lucky
but still don’t feel
in sync with my time

or that the church bells that chimed

chimed for me.

Early Morning Existentialism

So quiet
you can hear
the wet click
of your opening eyelids.

So quiet
you realize
you’re alone in the dark.

Bull; Or, Blue Courage

The matador goes about his work
blade in hand,
barely deigning to notice
the broad-chested bull
hardly bothering to turn head and sink
his horns.

Both have lost a leg but no matter:

They’re but blue images
On a tattered and paint-splattered
poster announcing a long-forgotten fight
in a place far from where shreds
still adhere to a wall seen only
by those who wouldn’t look just as fearlessunless they truly were.

Delray Café

What happens happens
in the intricate shadows
underneath the stairs.

Hopeful Places

Every item on display
confidently proclaims:
the thing broken can be healed;
the thing unmade can be made.

It can be done
with the right materials
and the right tools,
with some preparation
and some time.

Hardware stores are such hopeful places.


In the dream
the brown mouse
twitched, leapt and skittered
as if the bare floor burned
its bony feet.

In real life
it was a rat,
its claws clickingon the cold concrete.

Count It All Joy

Count it all joy:
If this weren’t hard,
you’d be soft.

Count it all joy:
If there weren’t trials,
you’d never learn.

Count it all joy:
If this weren’t difficult,
you’d not strengthen.

Count it all joy:
If there weren’t struggles,
you’d never prevail.

Count it all joy:
If you didn’t fear losing,
you’d not try.

Count it all joy:
If you lack such resolve,

you’d only cry.

Rugged Fragility

Can a thing
be both
fragile and rugged,
refined and course?

Can a place
be both
weak and strong,
shaky and firm?

I know that thing –

that place.