John Berryman, October 25, 1914 – January 7, 1972

John Berryman pic

John Berryman’s Last Walk

It’s a fridge cold Minnesota day.
The poet crunches to Washington Avenue Bridge
looks down on three inch ice
beneath the iron span, turns to wave
at a young woman, a passer-by whose face
will freeze and drain
in the time it takes to climb the rail
and drop his flapping shadow
through the thick-skinned Mississippi.

A version of this poem was first published in London Grip in March 2012.


  1. Re: DREAM SONG 14

    I found John Berryman!
    Lying on the steps outside the library.
    He didn’t even know that he was lost
    or who had lost him.
    A poet that has been read,
    some minor tears,
    discolouration with age,
    damage to the spine.

    I dusted him down and handed him back in, saying,
    ‘someone must have dropped this.’
    And the man,
    socially inadequate,
    from Inner Resources,
    said he would try and find the lender
    and how it happens all the time,
    especially poets


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