Clarity | Dana Yost

Christ, this is good.
Twelve hours of a clear head,
no slog, no drag or the gauze-curtain
of fatigue. Just a little ache under each eye,
in that baggy flesh that turns dark
upon deep tire.
But that has only come late.
Before that, a spree of writing,
reading, and finding music videos
on the Internet: Muddy Waters,
Edgar Winter, the Stones,
Grace Potter — that one with my wife.
A surge of attentiveness,
and I stay awake into the night,
like a rocker on coke,
although I am not,
but I can delineate the shades
of blue in a friend’s party dress,
can tell that my son is happy
by the photos he posts on Facebook.
I push onward with the words,
the pages,
an intensity better than playing licks with the
Stones, fierce, finding the right words,
the right time to pause,
the rhythms and the metaphors,
and dropping them into place,
hardly need for massage.
I end the night playing the Ramones,
fast and loud,
a thump of punk music
I didn’t dare play loud
in high school, but now don’t care
who hears, not even the dogs in the alley
across the street.
Hey, pup, do you want to be my girlfriend?
It’s a growl, a laugh,
and I sit back in the recliner,
my Bible open to Ecclesiastes,
studying for tomorrow morning
and thinking of a Georgia poet
who based an entire book
on Ecclesiastes – and Otis Redding —
and it made me cry, reading the poems again,
knowing there is that sort of beauty
in the last breaths of dying people,
in the hard work of factory women.
And for this, for the telling of those lives,
I should keep it all clear.
Christ, this is good.


Dana Yost was an award-winning daily newspaper editor and writer for 29 years, at papers in the Upper Midwest. Since 2008, he has had four books published by independent commercial presses.

He was a 2012 nominee for the Pushcart Prize in poetry. His poems have appeared or will appear in a variety of journals and magazines including: Awakenings Review, Bare Root Review, Big River Poetry Review, Cactus Heart Press, The Crusader, The Dandelion Farm Review, District, Jellyfish Whispers, Kind of A Hurricane Press’ anthology Poised in Flight, Lingerpost, Open Minds Quarterly, New Plains Review, New Verse News, Pyrokinection, Relief, River Poets Journal, Still Point Arts Quarterly, South Dakota Magazine, Stone’s Throw, Stymie, Time of Singing, Turtle Quarterly, Verse Wisconsin, and Wolf Head Quarterly. His poem “Slaughterhouse,” originally published in Jellyfish Whispers, was selected for Kind of a Hurricane Press’ best-of-2012 anthology, and his poem “When Lilacs Bloom” was selected as poem of the month for June 2013 by Big River Poetry Review.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.