Guardians of the Sunset


The years go down like liquor.  Drink and pour
and drink again, and laugh or sigh, and look
behind you at the dark streets of the past,
the rows of street lamp dandelions.  You take
so long to cross a portion of the vast
and busy continent of years—you’re sure
you’ve gone so far, till you look back and find
the circling of a dog into its sleep.
And if you haven’t sniffed out airs of truth,
you’ve tracked down where it couldn’t be—and keep
returning there, uncertain, burdened with
the vision of an offspring of the ground,
the mind that makes all patterns from what it knows,
the soul that roots in meaty certainties.



J.B. Mulligan has published more than 1100 poems and stories in various magazines over the past 45 years, and has had two chapbooks: The Stations of the Cross and THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, as well as 2 e-books: The City of Now and Then, and A Book of Psalms (a loose translation). He has appeared in more than a dozen anthologies.

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5 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    Some amazing imagery in this poem – and dark.

    The image of the ‘street lamp dandelions’ was particularly striking – blow on them and the years fly away (that was my take, anyhow!)

    Definitely a poem to come back to.

    Thanks for the read, JB.

  2. Cheryl Corey

    J.B., there’s a lot of great imagery here: “dark streets of the past”, “street lamp dandelions”; and when you later speak of “offspring of the ground” and “the soul that roots”, I thought back to the imagery of the dandelions, and the way that the seeds parachute away, perhaps like the years. Your imagery of a dog “sniffing out airs of truth” is also effective. A very thought-provoking piece. I note that it’s number III. I take it this part of a larger work? I hope to read more of your poems here in the future.

  3. jd

    I agree with all of the above comments and
    also love the title and the final line.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    I don’t know what this is a part of, but I am impressed by the flood of trenchant images and your ability to make it all make sense to the very end.

  5. Stuti

    Love the vivid imagery and like everyone else almost, I’m blown away by ‘street lamp dandelions’. So sharp!


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