Lisbon, you’ve hurt me, tricked
me into believing all the old lies.

Delusions are endless.

If you’re looking for a mark, here
I am, doing horizontal stand-up

in my hospital bed, joking against
amnesia, transient, global, while

my son stands by in terror. I told him
it felt like an acid flashback, there was

a buzzing in my brain, apologized
for his chromosomes, forgot

and apologized again. His mother’s shadow
circled like a summoner, birdwing

petulance, all the elegance of crow’s
flight, called back after she’d flown

to an intrigue’s heights. I filed my own
missing person’s report. Still I grouse, land

me, because this is about you, Lisbon,

because you waited for us. This return.
My son’s along and laughing, memory

back and every labyrinth
open, your pink walls and pink   

streets I wake and dream down.
At the end of every looted marble

sidewalk, under the sky of Igreja
de Sao Domingos, the clean halls

and coffee roast, machine oil
of Rossio Station, Alameda’s uphill

tracks, along the plane trees
and at the top of every miradouro

I see you, in this second, this new Lisbon
we plant and pave for each other.


John Hennessy is the author of two collections, Coney Island Pilgrims and Bridge and Tunnel, and his poems appear in many journals and anthologies, including The Believer, Best American PoetryHarvard ReviewThe Huffington Post, JacketThe New RepublicPoetryThe Poetry Review (UK), Poetry at Sangam (India), Poetry Ireland Review, and The Yale Review. He is the translator, with Ostap Kin, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, 2021, and winner of the Derek Walcott Prize, 2021, and the anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (part of the Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature/HUP). Their new translations of poems by Yuri Andrukhovych have appeared in NYRB, TLS, and The New Statesman. Hennessy is the poetry editor of The Common and teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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