Christopher J Johnson | 3 poems

7/15/2016 (Chicago, IL)

when your name has changed lips
you will hear those, still, who uttered it.

         Autumn is hungrier, yet
you'll sweat yrself out,
drain the maps, wear out the cups
&eat the words until
there is only your own name
&the memory of its casters.

           Elm's disease.

&to forget& to misremember it;
but the names remain
        &the nearness, the distance
                of those who spoke them.


nothing is lost, not in any piece,
no matter how well you break it
— not dirt or jewels or liquor bottles;

nothing but our concerns,
our hope-fors& sorrows,
our names&
the names we spread over everything;

we move forward in a single action
— the dogs& lizards& leaves;
not as a machine, but a part in one
that is more miracle than we can understand.

Nothing is obvious, i acknowledge no-
thing, not the breath i breathe; 
its wherefore still eludes me. 
The bones of my ancestors 
hold the curvature of who i've become – 
they have in them an eternal action.
How can i know that everything isn't fire, 
it eats thru time in all direction; 
or that we aren't just water 
the way we fill, even, what was empty w/ our volume? 
Art is the worst, having only to do with who 
we are not or were or cannot help but be, 
&still confuse with ourselves – 
also, anything human& serious. 
I prefer my teeth, 
they are essential& innocent 
&are exclusively about the vehicle of me; 
by which i mean fire or water 
or some other kind of æther 
                         – i'm not sure.

Christopher J Johnson is the author of &luckier, which was published in October 2016 as part of The Mountains West Poetry Series. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he provides narrative content and live performances for the Meow Wolf art collective’s immersive 3D art installations. He also writes for and is manager of photo-eye Bookstore. His poems have appeared in West Branch and The American Poetry Review. He is from Madison, Wisconsin.

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