Friday, June 5, 2020


From The BOOK OF ISAIAH 39: 1-8 

Hezekiah of Judah had been gravely ill but survived.                                  The king of Babylon sent a delegation to Hezekiah.                       They took a letter written by the king himself and a gift                                            which he’d personally selected. 
Hezekiah showed the Babylonian delegation his house                                   and the precious things therein. The silver, the gold.                                      The spices, the rare and expensive ointments. The adornments.                                                 The house and his dominion over the house. Hezekiah showed it all.
When Isaiah the prophet son of Amoz next met Hezekiah                        he asked: “Who were those men and where did                                                            they come from?”    
Hezekiah told Isaiah:                                        “They were a delegation come                                                                   from Babylon.”               

Isaiah asked: “What did you show them?”
“The house and everything precious within the house.                                       The silver, the gold. The spices, the rare and expensive ointments.                 The adornments.  All that is in the house, I showed them.             And my dominion over all.”

Then Isaiah the prophet said:                                                 
           “Hear these words    from the Lord of Hosts. The day nears                                                  when
all that is in your house, all that your fathers gathered up and laid in store, will be
taken from you

                                              and carried to Babylon, so that nothing precious                                  will be found in your house. Nothing                                           
will remain.”

“And your sons yet to be, those you will beget,                        they shall be taken from you, and they shall be made                              eunuchs in the court of the king of Babylon.”
Hezekiah replied to Isaiah:                                                              “Good are the words you have spoken.                                            Surely there will be peace and understanding                              
all the days of my life.”

John Constable Landscape at Hampstead - Tree and Storm Clouds painting -  Landscape at Hampstead - Tree and Storm Clouds print for sale

--- A free adaptation of chapter 39 from the Book of Isaiah.  My approach is based upon a reading of that text as found in the  King James Version.  I also consulted the New Oxford Annotated Bible/New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha (Oxford, 2010).   The lineation above does not conform to my original intentions. I tried to match what I'd written on my computer screen before copying it into the blog post above, finding ultimately that I could not do so.  If you are a poet you will know how inhospitable e-blogger is to the creative use of space and unconventional employment of line. The poet is no less burdened by pain than any other person in this wretched age, but there are irritations peculiar to the efforts of writing a poem: situating a poem on a blog is one such irritation. Perhaps one day the activities of the poet will be given a measure of accommodation in this matter. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

BORDERLINE CITIZEN: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood by Robin Hemley (University of Nebraska Press, 2020).

Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood ...

Robin Hemley's "Borderline Citizen" is a wide-ranging, engrossing collection of essays that combines memoir, travel, history, political analysis, and personal meditation. Throughout these thirteen essays, Hemley wrestles with questions of national identity, patriotism (and its ugly relative: jingoism), the love of place that persists even within histories of evil, and the confusions that arise when boundaries align according to the most arbitrary of motives and understandings. It describes visits to exclaves, enclaves, land swaps, refugee camps, far-flung possessions, graveyards, and dizzyingly complex (and sometimes tense) borders.  It provides a description of the Russian city of Kaliningrad, which was once the Prussian city of Königsberg, whose most enduring son remains the philosopher Immanual Kant. (His afternoon perambulations were reputedly regular enough for the housewives of that city to set their clocks upon seeing him.)  It describes a visit to Cuba, and a meeting of American college students with an African-American activist living in exile because of accusations of various crimes. 
Let me distill several essays. The Netherlands and Belgium share what Hemley calls “the most unusual border in the world”, known as ‘the Baarles’: there twenty-pieces of Belgian territory can be found within the Netherlands, and seven pieces of Dutch jurisdiction nestle snugly within Belgian arms. The result is mostly comedic. (I say ‘mostly’ because one tragedy is recounted that lends a somber note to an otherwise charming chord.) Another excursion finds Hemley traveling to the border between India and Bangladesh, where people from exclaves of both countries were brought home by an elaborate land swap. The return of citizens to their home countries sounds like it should produce an unmitigated positive end. Alas, like most well-intentioned endeavors there are bumps in the road: refugee camps that continue as of the publication of this book.
The trip to the Falkland Islands (Isla Malvinas) is an experience with  colonial overreach. An archipelago off the southern coast of Argentina, the Falkland Islands persist to this day as hard, desolate lands that stake an almost ghostly connection to the motherland. Here Britishness seems ossified, a strange 19th century remnant that bears little resemblance to contemporary Britain. The majority of Falklanders are island born and that is where their real allegiance lies. It is here, too, that Hemley encounters a menace present just below the surface of civil encounter.   One breathes a sigh of relief when he leaves those antiquated prides and furies behind.
Finally, Hemley provides a wonderful meditation on graveyards, which he enjoys visiting. Perhaps graveyards are the ultimate exclaves, or maybe enclaves. It’s hard to determine how we should classify the individual plots one finds there. A catalog of graveyards is presented and the distinctions made bring to my mind both Borges and Benjamin. The meditation leaves us with those gardens where the dead are everywhere in beauty – in the best examples – and in strifeless communion.  

Recommended for: travelers, memoirists, history buffs; those interested in unusual locales, politics, international affairs, global studies; readers of  creative-non-fiction, and professors preparing syllabi for a wide range of college courses.

Sunday, March 15, 2020


Ice Cream Truck Cover

Above is the cover of the collection of plays that I co-wrote with Rauan Klassnik, and which was published by Plays Inverse (2020). If you enjoy the works of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Antonin Artaud, Alfred Jarry, Gertrude Stein, and so on, then these plays will have much to offer.

Here is the link to purchase this volume:

The cost of  our collection is modest. The volume is attractively designed. And the small press world is a tremendous source for new and exciting works of prose, poetry, and graphic arts.

Thank you for helping the small press remain a vital force.

Friday, December 6, 2019



I've heard rumors 

Monday, May 6, 2019


I would rather admire  
your collection 

of antique skull-lamps 

Friday, March 29, 2019

COLD HOUSE: my latest chapbook


Please consider purchasing my most recent collection COLD HOUSE  from Espresso_Chapbooks, (Toronto, Ont., 2017).

Here is the link to their web-site:

Thank you for supporting the small press.

Jon Cone

Monday, March 18, 2019


Alas I whorled but I'm an alcoholic fuck                                       who has cancer and no money and can barely leave 
the hovel where I live to walk to the end of way                         to pick up the body of nail that each day tells of                     
my growing debt without surcease by any known horizon

Sunday, February 17, 2019


We tusk the hours, we shed, we blaze, 
we pig. And so the sense hardens, 
becomes obsidian deep in our souls, 
but there are no souls, there is none -- 

but they do exist, another says, 
leagued with this being which is catastrophe, 
which is always the same ceaseless state 
of breaking, of falling, graveling down 

to ravine the hoard-waters that glide 
there, that flay. Flowers, 
open and deliquescent, that bend. 
Grasses that move. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Here's an announcement from Plays Inverse.

Visit their website:

Thank you for supporting the small, independent press.

Jon Cone 

Thursday, December 20, 2018


There shall be no murder on Sunday.                              There shall be no murder by stone.
There shall be no murder by blade.
There shall be no murder by toxin.
There shall be no murder by fang.
There shall be no murder by claw.
There shall be no murder by dirt.
There shall be no murder by demolition. 
There shall be no murder by wasting.
There shall be no murder by tree.
There shall be no murder by flood.
There shall be no murder be destitution.
There shall be no murder by fist.
There shall be no murder by fire. 

These edicts go on they go on.  
Unceasing flutes. 

Put that needle away, 
Das Kapital
The wing is 
the sonata at sunrise. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


A., the Estonian, was concerned about a letter he received from his publisher. Having little to do, I offered to help him with his problem, which offer A. immediately embraced. Posing as a psychiatrist, I wrote A.’s publisher a formal letter, suggesting he was clinically insane and therefore unpredictable. He could even be violent. Next day A. received a letter from his publisher in which the problems were dismissed. There were many assurances that A. would see his work published in accordance with his original intentions. No revisions or deletions were needed.  A. was overjoyed at this news. He offered to take me to dinner to show his appreciation. Gracefully, I accepted A.’s offer. However, I did insist we go to the most expensive restaurant in town, reminding A. – who was visibly crestfallen at my suggestion and as poor as I was -- that art always comes with a price.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

excerpt from August Diary


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

excerpt from DIARY (DAILY NOTES)

August 29

I worked four hours this morning. Now what?
Last night I dreamt. Why should I remember my dream and, if remembered, why should I reveal it to you?
An awkward conversation became less awkward the more we grew bored with each other.

Sunday, July 22, 2018


The impression is of an impression of
a bedroom blazing out of darkness, 
where at the outer edge
a toothless maid holds the hemp bag
that will receive the severed head.

Further on how large mother is,
a giantess: she who holds
her dead son on her lap, her thighs
two monuments hidden beneath folds 
             of Carrara marble. 

One dry season, in California, 
there were two children
who leaned into her, supported her,
and in turn were supported by her,
at her breast baby dreamt of the wishing-thunder
in the bowl of fruit at the bar 
and the blood-orange clay
polished clean for the compass eye.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fragment from an Introduction

The essays that follow celebrate. It is that which is their only goal. I have no interest in demonstrating the ultimate qualities of a superior understanding, nor in revealing the flaws a certain tempered investigation might uncover. Leave both of those results to minds more lambent than my own.  I am no critic, merely a human who happened to learn how to read in circumstances unexceptional. As for the essays themselves: let it be known, they were never begun and never ever occluded. 

Friday, March 23, 2018


Sinatra croons                                                                                      from a Crown                                                                                      transistor radio                                                                                      with cloudy                                                                                          dial, while a Kent                                                                                  long-lasting burns                                                                                  in the barrel of a                                                                                    glass pistol

Friday, March 9, 2018


Cassandra liked “When It Rains It Pours” by Luke Combs.
Sarah liked “Greatest Love Story” by LANCO.
Alexis liked “Nocturne op. 9, no. 2” by Chopin.
Abdul liked “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton.
Collin liked “Dance of Life” by Peder B. Holland.
Jenna liked “Perfect Symphony” by Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli.
Domino liked (with reservations) “I Will Be Heard” by Hatebreed.
Sharon liked “Small Bump” by Ed Sheeran.
Anna liked “1-800-273-8255” by Logic.
Michael liked (with reservations) “Rockstar” by Post Malone.
Elizabeth liked “Never Say Goodbye” by the Flamingos.
Kristine liked “Sick of Me” by Beartooth.
Shelby liked “Could You Be Loved?” by Bob Marley.
Rochelle liked “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton.
O’shaughnessy liked “This Is How We Roll” by Georgia Line and Luke Bryan.
Geoffrey liked (with reservations) “Party in the Parking Lot” by Christ Gentry (feat. Raine).
Yvonne like “Turnadot” by Puccini.
Wendy liked “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell.
Stephanie liked (with reservations) “1-800-273-8255 by Logic.
Jannika liked “Still a Fool” by Muddy Waters.
Tammy liked “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.
Feather did not like “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar.
Kristiana liked “Hero of War” by Rise Against.
Lakesha liked “Single Petal of a Rose [Ellington]” by Aaron Diehl.
Clarissa liked “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban.
Summer did not like “Without Me” by Eminem.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


a libretto for three voices and chorus in two acts

A desolate place.

Upon the bright round bell
The buried things that could not sleep
The sun did rise to warm the hills
Upon the bright round bell  


Within the season first
Within the season last
By means of compass points

The north 
The south
The east 
The west


Within the realms of seasons
The world is found and found and found
Round a ground
Sounds abound

Round sounds bound aground
Abound around aground
The sound is deep and good
Good, good friend resound with all
All manner of sound and all manner of ground
And all manner of thing shall be well
Shall be well shall be shall be shall be shall be
And all manner shall be well

We saw the clouds that caused us harm
We saw them bright and true
We saw the clouds of war that carried us away
And felt their solace too
In heavenly choral spheres within spheres
That turn in skies above us
Maps for heavenly skies
Oh, bright fiery latitudes
Tempests סֶלָה
Tempests סֶלָה
Tempests סֶלָה


We saw them saw them saw them
The land did meet the sky did meet the shore
Everything upon the land that met the sky
That leapt upon the shore to see
Tumultuous the seas
What a churning, boiling thing the sea is
What a churning, boiling thing


The wind swept all four points
Hear the music
The wind swept all four points
Hear the solemn voice
Another voice      join in
Angelic instrument     god's own proof
Mad drum      of insolent youth
Deaf composer     wild batons
Upon a sphere enrapt 

Hear the bells the bells that ring
Hear them as they sing
Bells oh bells of beauty
Bells oh bells of song


Upon the bright round bell
We buried things in hell
The dog that caused us harm
The claw that rang alarm
The sea that turned the dawn
The harp that felled the beast
The moon that lit the path
The night that held the vault
That in the morning held  
The children’s moon
Above the trembling bell
O ring bright bell
O ring the loud the clear
O ring wise bell
That calls to one and all

Upon the bright round bell
Of Nature’s measured fell

We saw armies of the heart 
Legions in formation
Armies of the heart
Prepared for every season

The garden where we roved
Too far and farther reaches
Raising flowers glowing red
Young gather to be seen

To be heard 
for spring 
has come
Birds of air
Fish of river
Beast of land

Do stroll about 
like living garlands
The rain did fall 
and now has gone
The earth prepared 
its bed

All belts 
and milk 
move in 
With an inner 
of delight


                             flowers glowing
                             Raising flowers 
                             glowing red
                             Raising flowers 
                             raising flowers
                             Glowing red so 
                             glowing red
                             In beauty 
                             and obscurity


It strode toward us
like a ragged beast
from a wind-swept plain. 
They said, you are not well.
Spend time in the country.
The windows must be closed.
One said, drink malt.
Another, not malt, only milk.
Another said eat a half pound
of potato every day for three weeks.
After that you can try vegetables and                            apples. Maybe fish. 
Mucous being problematic. 
I went down to the effigy fires. 
I was thinking always of my childhood. 
I was one broke bastard. 
I remain one broke bastard.
There’s little money in madness,
despite what Kanye says
I had good times at Russian roulette. 
My parents loved me as they would a stray,  
they did not know 
what to do with a child in their exile.
The village where I was born I don't remember.
I wish I'd never. 
They took me unconscious across the deep.  
The days rocked their blue-green crib
where first light saw our knocked hull meet safe harbor.


The same desolate place.

                             What was that?
                             What was that sound?

                             Tell us you name
                             Where were you born
                             Why are you here? 
                             Why were you there?
                             Our minds are curious
                             They ask of anything
                             The source of its evil
                             The reason its shame

People of the chorus, voices joined as one, let me answer by means of a simple ballad composed recently. I call it A Ballad of Ballad of Song of a Ballad of Song of a Ballad of Song of a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Song a Measure a Meter a Rhyme of a Verse and a Verse of a Pome a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a gone!


My name is John Clare                                          I live on the air                                                      I wander this land                                                  with nothing in hand                                                                                               
My name is John Clare                                          I eat when I’m able                                                a guest at crude table                                              I drink of the dew in the air                                                                  
For the sky up above                                              and the furious seas                                                do threaten the meek                                              and most of the mild

My name is John Clare                                          Who lives on the air                                              Hallowed be my name                                            John Clare, John Clare                                          O piteous mad John Clare



NOTE (For Composers of Choral Works and Contemporary Operas):

This fragment is what remains of my efforts to present a libretto to a composer friend. I somehow managed to lose sight of my original idea, only to find myself at a stopping point without having reached a conclusion. At present, it remains a fragment: that is, incomplete, broken, in need of expansion, deepening, and refinement. Which I would certainly prefer to do, though I have no solid belief that shall ever be managed. My past record of acting on intentions is not good. I give up easily and am too ready to let early difficulties signal it is time to resign. If you are a composer of choral works; if the fragment interests you and you would like to use it as a libretto for an orchestral work, please don’t hesitate to contact me. (I'm most active on Twitter: @JonCone ). It would give me great pleasure to see my name attached to a musical score in much the same way that Gertrude Stein allowed hers to be.

Jon Cone

                             ADDENDUM TO THE ABOVE:

Whatever significance this libretto ('libretto') has exists                        only to the extent that it remains shrouded in beautiful obscurity. 
Like the ingredients of some weird alien food.
Or incomprehensible instructions for distilling light                              from cucumbers.

Jon Cone

Saturday, December 23, 2017


This shall be the one I use. 
This, no other. 

Then this shall be the one I refuse. 

This, no other, I shall refuse. 

And this, and this, and this, these 

in the cumulation of small tolerations shall be set down
and their futures determined, 

in waves consonant with 

the turning nature of 
the world. That is, 

the seas above below within.  

Friday, November 24, 2017


for those who know pain

What did you,
what did you

do today? A
few, some two
or three,


Thursday, November 16, 2017

COLD HOUSE by Jon Cone (Toronto: Espresso-chapbooks, 2017)

Hello Friends,

My collection COLD HOUSE is now available for  purchase from Espresso-chapbooks of Toronto, Ontario. Please consider buying a copy or any of their other wonderful titles, and so help the small independent presses.

Here is the link:


Jon Cone

Monday, November 6, 2017


I was a certain
moment, and
you were more
than a moment.
You were the
moment's all.