A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Justin Runge



The boy
at the train
did not 
realize he was 
waving at me. 
traffic cones 
in the river.
How many
know fowl
go underwater
for a second.
Or know,
but forget.
Ornate tattoo
on the small 
of the pregnant
woman’s back
says Beautiful.
I am trying 
to keep this 
poem on Earth.
The train stops
on a part of it 
long enough 
that I see rust
and we begin to.
Welcome to 


I'm not much of a collector, so I like my keepsakes to be functional: a pair of socks stitched with hamburgers and french fries bought in Santa Cruz; a canister of fir needle tea from Big Sur that's long since been brewed; a magnet of an octopus from the Monterey Aquarium on my fridge as a reminder not to eat octopi — too smart, my wife says.



Justin Runge lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where he serves as poetry editor of Parcel. He is the author of two chapbooks, Plainsight (New Michigan Press, 2012) and Hum Decode (Greying Ghost Press, 2014). Recipient of the Lawrence Arts Center's 2014 Langston Hughes Award, Runge has published in Best New Poets 2013, Linebreak, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. He can be found at