The Following Sea

In the following sea, we came burdened by the wind’s weight. In the dark, the night before, under constellations, you held yourself in an arc above me. In the small light, the one you pressed against the wall, I saw your shape. We pitched in the sea’s swell. You and I, in that cabin, trust…

Spring Equinox

for Judith Kitchen I’ve washed a winter’s worth of collard greens, torn the leaf from stems and veins, steamed the greens in broth, adding red pepper flakes, cayenne, too, then ate the fans I’d frayed and mixed with rice and beans. I triple washed the beets, separating greens from bulbous roots. Steamed and boiled, they…

Chicken Pluckers

They huddled and breathed, scratched and clucked, jerked and leaned, stacked on long tables waiting three cages high, wing to wing, ten to a locker white brown black yellow all in it together equal opportunity workplace only the sons wished they could be anywhere but here and on this subject the birds had to agree…

Sitting with Iris

Charmed one, flower of summer, everyone’s love child—wearied of being passed arm to arm, she comes to my lap on the bench outside the door where late June sun is spreading shadows around the goldfish pond. I whisper to her the litany of what’s before us: a junco hopping in Indian plum dragonfly darting for…

Was a Time

when I’d decided to furnish a room with marigold walls, a time when I caught the daily catamaran and hunkered starboard side to read arctic adventures. It was a good time. It was a moment, really, not expansive as it was happening but now fills me with slow maple syrup sappy sticky thinking. It was…

After the Party Pantoum

Working that walk so hard it hurts, it hurts, walking home in someone else’s high heels. You were who you were before you came here— a small animal, wandering, a drink in your hand. It hurts, walking home in someone else’s high heels so leave them by the road, a small monument to failure, leave…

Some Kind of Sonnet

Sunday morning cast wide your nets. Nimble fingers tickle down a harvest of therapists for adolescents, depressed yet still trotting out to-do lists. Our listless rider of the emotional waterbed. We are worried. She, a starfish, prone, pricks our attempts at soothing tones and I want to throw my body at those rocks like I’m…

Nurselog Sprig

No one would call you shallow, your roots pincers in the bitter-scratch earth of your making— burrow-tip grips like rock-climbers ascending the face of their ancestors’ decomposed past. Who else but a parent would give up his hold on mortal ground to lie prostrate, yielding in slow disintegration? Wood rust and tang of uptake, your…

Gymnosperm

Evergreen upsides from naked seed. Even you, my little sapling, formed from a kernel that swarmed to find home in a wet and unprotected womb. Split seed, sweetlip hoist and tremble. Every tree fumbling in the shadow of parent stretches to claim its stake of the light. Jill McCabe Johnson is the author of two…

Insomnia’s Lunatic

A full moon on patio stones, and illness flourishes. Three a.m. Sleeplessness peaks, and illness flourishes. In not dreaming a kind of wonder, in the sore throat, the lack of tonsils, to hack all day, all night—an illness flourishes. Who is not rapt, who uneasy, captive on a mattress. Trolling spindles while in her head…

Twinned

This morning, this evening—all twilight— the pinks, grays, amorphous twilights merged by hers and hers, both bright and newly minted, clouds of twilight hovering in rooms after days of heat. If it hums—the fridge, the fan—still twilight falls earlier in increments. Here the height of summer becomes a gauge. Age comes sleight of hand, preoccupied…

Nightmare Ghazal

Is this the morning, then, when you wake full of nightmare to a song you don’t understand? Has there been another war, the tide coming in full of cars and bodies, man-made, mere fodder for the dollar mill, that needs its share of nightmare? What brought these organs in its teeth? How many split hairs…