poem /luke johnson
Updated: Apr 2
What I mean when I say water
is we watch a whale, my son and I,
struggle on the beach and start to hiss
when air grows thick and the throng
of its blowhole sputters. Move on I say no more
and my son obeys with a gaze like Gaza
smoldering. Not a single bird alive to sing
the living from the shatter. Only smoke
smoke and glass and a cello lost
from a second story window where a little girl played
despite her daddy’s drinking and pretended
it a door which sounds like adore
a dance of echolocation. I was worried
if he stared too long the wounds would smile
and suddenly raptured under all that awe
the sandpipers dim and waves diminish
leave him clawing for more. I
read there is a beetle that eats its husk
and as it burgeons out a brighter color
collects the shards and buries it where
a blossom’s shriveled to trick your plane of sight.
And isn’t that like a father afraid of his boy?
The both of them bound to some kind of ritual
by which I mean shedding, until all that’s left
are lunar lights and a cry that wafts
like lit spruce over the day’s spent sky.
A little one playing the cello.
Luke Johnson lives on the California coast with his wife and three kids. His poems can be found at Kenyon Review, Narrative Magazine, Florida Review, Frontier, Thrush and elsewhere. His manuscript in progress was recently named a finalist for the Jake Adam York Prize, The Levis through Four Way Press, The Vassar Miller Award and is forthcoming fall of 2023 from Texas Review Press. Email: lukethepoet.com