Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 26, February 2013—Tribute to Jake Adam York)

Tribute to Jake Adam York

Jeff Newberry
Four Days Before the End of the World
In memory of Jake Adam York (1970-2012)


What did the Mayans know about the death

of poets? Not much, I’d argue—

watching the sky, they appeased

old gods with the death of others,

pitched screaming men & women

down burning canyons,

all in the name of silent gods.


Now, rain breaks three days

of late humidity. Apocalyptic,

these temperatures. Air conditioner

humming a week before Christmas.

My wife says it’s always been

this way: The weather in the south

is crazy she says. & maybe

(I think) she’s right:

the end has been happening all along.


I once dreaded the end.

A back-row Baptist teenager,

I dreamed of the earth in shards,

the oceans evaporated, an angry God’s fist

shaking the ground. Lava spurts

into the air like a carotid split.

A friend died yesterday & I

though of my father’s funeral,

how the preacher’s words hung

in the air like dust motes.

I never found the right words

& couldn’t croak out the hymns.

Twenty years ago, I stood a child

in a South Georgia graveyard

& wondered how I’d face

the Rapture without my father there.

Surely, I knew I’d be left behind.

The world didn’t end, though I planned

for it, though I tried to drown

in alcohol & pills, though I spit

hate at the sky.

Dared God to face me. Come on down

& explain himself to me.

I threw myself at the ground.

Tried to silence God’s night sweats.

My words hung in the air

like bourbon blues

the first dawn promise

after a three-day drunk:

useless, ornamental.


The world is set to end.

Maybe the end will be bang.

Maybe a whimper.

Or maybe it’s something like this:

I stare out at the remnants

of a storm. Sun glows

through thunderheads.

I speak & my words

cloud the glass.