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poem /luke johnson

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

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

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