Excerpts from Cindy St. John’s poetry manuscript, Dream Vacation, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.



I don’t know the names of the stars or their constellations. I don’t know the names of clouds, I don’t know the names of trees, most flowers, most plants in general. I don’t know the tune a man whistles next door though I am usually pretty good at identifying songs. I don’t know the meanings of many acronyms. I just looked up IRL which means in real life. In real life I stare at the stars and the clouds and the trees, flowers and plants and the movements the wind makes in these things for hours. You only live once. Last week my friends had to define FOMO for me which means fear of missing out. I fear missing out on real life, though I don’t know what that means. I fear missing out on the future. I want to live a very long time.

pink gray fog at dusk

what am I




I am thinking about having sex with you. I am thinking of my body infinitely stretched wide and thin like dough until I become a great distance, the actual space a map represents, but in a sexy way. Someone told me she saw a star explode and it lit the sky for two days. I wish that would happen to me, and other big things, good stories to tell.  That seems a little obvious, but it’s not a metaphor. The other night I watched the meteor shower out here in the country and it was beautiful but it was not an explosion. Today I check the weather, I go out to a field, I read poems and take a picture of the field and send it to you and it floats through space thousands of miles like the ghosts of our hands on each other. The picture’s caption says “distance.” You send me a text that says “that is not what I’m feeling besides geographically” and I write a poem.

we made

this eye

that sees

for us



A friend sent me an article titled “Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest.” There was a graph with different wavy and straight lines, the words smashed, created, collide, bursts, explosion, mysteries, puzzle, laser, fire, gold and of course light several times. They never expected anyone to physically demonstrate this prediction. I think about holding light in my hands as if it is a small marble while I sit in the drive-thru car wash. I slowly move forward when the green light is on. I stop when the red light is on.

I still

believe in so

many things



This morning I read about some guys who broke into Michael Jackson’s abandoned Neverland Ranch, drank his grape soda then wiped their fingerprints off the dusty plastic bottles and put them back in the fridge. This morning I read about a woman who said she wanted to die, why go on? she thought, but then she ate the most delicious peach and changed her mind. I think of all the many things that make me want to live and money is not one of them. This morning I read like 200 hundred poems that made me want to live. I tell people on the street that I am trying to write poems as if this is an appropriate thing to say, then I tell them about the Neverland Ranch break in and the suicidal woman and the peach and that usually goes over well. Last night, your son cried fiercely, shaking because his favorite Spiderman pajamas are now too small, because he is growing bigger and older and I wonder if maybe we should all feel this way—this much— but I don’t say this aloud.

red light

green light

humming air


a kind of magic

between us


cindy-st-john-photoABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cindy St. John is the author of four chapbooks: I Wrote This Poem (Salt Hill), Be the Heat (Slash Pine Press), City Poems (Effing Press), and People Who Are in Love Will Read This Book Differently (Dancing Girl Press). She lives in Austin, TX, where she teaches at a public school and co-curates a reading series called Fun Party. Find her at http://cindyjstjohn.com/.


Dream Vacation is a series of poems written in the Japanese form haibun. It is my first full length manuscript. “Yolo” and “The Story Decontextualized” first appeared in Pastelegram.