John Bennett

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Stained Souls

What's a
stained soul?

Is it likeArtwork by Gene McCormick
stained glass?

Soiled underwear?

An unscrubbed
toilet bowl?

Am I
my soul
this way?

How much
stain can
a soul
bear up
under before
it sinks
into hell?

How many
souls got
there before
mine &
do they

I don't
want to

But maybe
I won't
maybe I'll
be free
at last
once my
soul departs.

Are souls
white as
the driven
snow when they
start out?

& where
is it
they start
out from?

How did
they get
there to
begin with?

Here we
go again.

What do
look like?

A wedge of
Swiss cheese?

Are they

Do they
have anything
to do
with God
or are they
free agents?

What right
do we
have to
lay claim
to them?

Will they
take over
the earth
once we've
rendered it
for corporeal
life forms?

Imagine the
earth spinning
around the
sun trailing
a gauzy
veil of
stained souls.

Imagine the
rustling sound
they make.

Imagine souls
breaking off
& drifting into
deep space.

Imagine life
forms on a
distant planet
in a
distant galaxy
welcoming them
with open
arms, listening
far into
the night
to their
stories of
all the
they've been.


John Bennett was for many years the driving force behind Vagabond Press which operated on the run from Munich to DC to New Orleans to San Francisco and beyond.  He’s published four novels, two novellas, five short story collections and numerous books of poetry, essays and shards, a poem/story hybrid of his own invention.

He keeps slamming out the words, if anything with more ferocity than ever. As Henry Miller said so eloquently around half a century ago, “You may as well have your say, they’re going to shit on you anyway.”