After the Funeral 

 

When the winds

had toppled the dollhouse

had pushed over the oak 

had made of windows 

wrecking glass

 

and called me out 

to greet the rain barefoot 

to meet the sky nude

to wash myself 

in muddy waters

 

and will my body 

underneath 

to touch the muted black­­––

 

when I had touched it,

had made my skin cargo 

a carrion of ghosts,

 

when I had heard my sister 

walk the shore

and woo me back 

from boulders 

mutinies of leaves, I 

 

stepped from torrents 

slick with silt 

and waited 

for her fragile grip

to take me back toward home.

 

 

Cradle the Wild

       - for my sisters

 

 

Jacklight strobes 

from fallen elms and ferries 

 

itself over water­­.

Its drape a flash that settles

 

a second,

then slips away downstream.

 

Soon it will rain.

And the winds will shred 

 

the boat 

that dad had built, bury

 

it under the stones.

 

§

 

I am 

told he 

raised us 

wailing, 

studied

 

as our stomachs 

swelled 

to praise 

the blooming 

voice.  

 

He poked

our hands, lips,

leaving 

jaundiced dents,

and called 

 

us out to cradle 

the wild, 

cracking

the heart’s 

acoustic. Once,

 

§

 

I loved a woman 

that loved a woman, who

admired a married man,

 

and waited 

for her hand to reach, 

to take me toward her warmth.

 

It went like that 

for months: wistful thinking,

tepid tea, blue 

 

rooms filled 

with folded afghans, the torsos

of stringless guitars. Frosted streets.

 

Her eyes behind 

a falling flame, narrowing

into their grief. 

 

Listen: 

 

§

 

beneath our feet a fire hums, beats its hands and hisses. If you press your ear against the ground 

and greet it with your silence, you can hear a b-flat braid the stones, stirring the grass in the fields. 

 

 

Luke Johnson.jpg

Luke Johnson

Pronouns: He/Him

2 Poems

After the Funeral

Cradle the Wild

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Luke Johnson (he/him) lives on the California Coast with his wife and three kids. He was a Finalist for the Vassar Miller Prize. His poems can be found at Kenyon Review, Narrative Magazine, Florida Review, Thrush, Cortland Review and elsewhere. 

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