4 Poems

The captain said: This is what we do to thieves.
The wrongly accused, kneeling, knowing
what to come, said: Forgive them.
They were women and kids, none who might rise.
Still, to sheathe the lesson in their guts,
the captain, ever articulate, ever polite,
asked a boy, May I borrow your machete?
What could he do but proffer the handle?
Ahh, someone has taught you well.
Thank you, child, he said. Then he turned
and cut off the head of that kneeling man.
This is a good machete, said the captain,
very sharp. He was judging its heft, sighting
the bloody blade, sure of his gravity.
They all knew better than to scream.
A very good blade, he said. You keep it
well, as he wiped one side, the other,
on the body’s once flawless white shirt.
A polite bow and the handle proffered
in return. Thank you again, sir, he said.
No apparent heat, no telltail, still it burned
the boy. The gendarme ordered the head
piked at the village crest lest someone forget
the fate of thieves. What was unspoken
in it was how the man stood against
the captain, painted him in the wrong.
The crux of it, his words: Forgive them.
And the captain shaking his head:
Who would remember a man who died this way?

* * *

Stargazing II
When my father`s last family went
their lonely ways in the land of the dead,
the long nights shunned him their solace.
I wish we were again in the night’s full bloom —
when he would steal me out to watch the stars —
That one? Crux — the Southern Cross.
That one? Orion. Cassiopeia. Ursa Major. . . .
The dipper may have been pouring night everywhere.
There was poetry in his breath, his silence.
And he would carry me back to my bed freshbathed
in the light of stars, and I imagine my mother
came as if my skin was burned with starlight
and her hands gently, gently across my brow.

* * *

Headlights undressing
the roadsides must surely warn,
fuss lynx and wolf hackles,
though never cougar crossing
the engine’s doppler swoon —
still all the nocturnal swerves.
Gravel gutfloats and recurves,
reckless tire tunes,
bugs blown like foundry sparks
from the shadows, offcast glass
fleshing the light —
what offer of the dark
I’ve not seen? There, a doe,
dead. Far from thicket.
And her fawn . . . blind stumble
all it knew, it could not know
I meant it love. I wonder
what stories are told in stag song
of the one that held you
like you were his fire?

* * *

Would you, dear reader, go into the dust
believing only your dreams carried you
windwise to the fields, rain blessed
and mustering only earscratch and dour
glance, the wandering perfection of a nap
curled in sun shafts through yon window,
the tongue lolled dirt roll and belly up
paw pedal and squirm and sheer lordly survey
of all your simple dogdom?
Would you so vainly go thus into the dust —
unmoved by what dreams you may have
shared with a dog? A full belly, a full belly
scratch, the ghost of a meal to lick
of your lips so long after. The so long after.
Not to say a simple, other, tomorrow,
but just another, another day like this
where the grass’s every lift sunward
was praise, and you strode through it all
and sneezed and saw that it was good,
and carried the sun like robes.


Michael Johnson laughs in the face of death.

Published On: September 2, 2013
Permanent Location: http://www.forgetmagazine.com/130902c.htm

Volume 7, Issue 4
  Labour Day, 2013


Forget Magazine

In The Past
Evie Christie

Four PoEMS
Michael Johnson

Feb 12, 2001 - Present

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6


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ISSN: 1710 193X

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