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“1 & 2” ∼ Page 2 ∼ by J.H. Johns & Paul Churchill Mann

Photo by Dariusz Pacak

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

Sometimes it was black,
later it was white-
but it seemed that it was
always there-
ethereally taking their place;
billowing in and with the wind;
you could see it;
and then covering;
your eyes and nose-
the world around you;
taking short breaths;
while trying to separate the smells,
struggling to tease out
all of the parts that it was;
smelling it
on your clothes
and body- on each other;
then laundering-
knowing what is passing down the drain-
both wanting and not wanting to let it go;
and yet trying to avoid it;
but we know it’s there;
especially on the fruits of the garden;
that were planted,
and cared for-
until we discarded them;
knowing that each piece had been covered,
believing that each piece
now had a name.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

We were going to go on Saturday;
I don’t know why we didn’t,
it might have had something to do
with the vodka we had on Friday night.
We were tired and dragging and slow,
but we recommitted to go on Sunday.
It was supposed to be cooler,
but it wasn’t;
all that pavement, concrete,
glass and steel
would just make it feel hotter-
so we didn’t go.
We were planning
to have dinner there;
not this time,
but eventually;
to mark
the new beginning of our lives-
but that was for later;
now we just wanted
to go to the top to see.
On Monday,
we rationalized
why we didn’t go over the weekend-
too hazy, we said-
we’ll wait until later in the fall;
it will be much clearer
and the view will be even more
the next day,
they were gone.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

Time was-
if the time was at all-
when we’d barely notice;
they were part of
the background;
those times
when they got close enough,
you’d either stop, pull over
or plug an ear;
almost all of those times
they were going someplace else;
we knew
something had happened,
and that it probably “wasn’t good”-
but it never had
anything to do with us.
And we learned
that the more of them we heard
meant that “wasn’t good”
had gone to “bad”
and that “bad”
had gone to “really bad.”
It all worked
since then-
a single siren,
no matter how far distant,
stops us,
causes us
to begin to wonder
“something really bad”
was happening.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

Used to be
that it was
a simple kind of charm;
we could expect to see
morons on the streets,
jerks cutting in line-
maybe even crime;
it’s not that these wonders are gone-
we can find them when we want-
it’s just that we now have
new expectations-
and they’re with us 24/7-
new things like
jets crashing or exploding,
bridges being blown up,
tunnels destroyed,
car bombs,
truck bombs,
our water poisoned,
air contaminated,
suicide bombers
on the ground
and in the air-
all here
for the expecting…


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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