An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
In a Time of Thirst
The horns of a cow led me to Mexico, to a place near trees,
where I spent the day in a ramshackle house half hidden
by apple-green leaves. My host (whose name escapes me)
kept a small dog and a canary. Her English was eccentric and eerie.
"I'm afraid I blunder the kiss." She had a mania for tracing
birds and beasts. Their outlines were scattered everywhere.
She said she liked sound ideas felt in the smallest places.
At lunch, she served a goose egg and poured two glasses.
"May your mustache grow like brushwood!" (She had no hair on her tongue.)
"I'll have another," I said, "in a French egg cup, if you please."
There's truth in wine. Every word's a sticking point.
But I was losing body parts, and then my eye went with me.
When I awoke, the devil was biting my head. I wondered,
had I wandered at my peril again, thinking without learning?
Sunny Day Flooding
You accuse the timekeeper of tapping the hourglass, urging the grains.
All you get in return is an anguished look of ages.
What did you expect, with your history of kiss and carom?
So there's that.
And then (as the comic says) you never take me seriously.
You got away with it back then, before cellphones, before phones,
before cells. It didn't matter what you held to your ear,
it was always the ocean.
When was the last time you tumbled in the saw-toothed waves, naked
but for a few leafy words?
Now the earth turns its back on you, your neck of the woods.
Someone in a hard hat is holding up a sign.
Collage = Life
In this novel composition, you find stories
like nobody's business. Plot lines that trot
along one axis, then another. Motivations
that are something else again. The anta-
gonist (who is quite a character) files a
complaint the only way he knows, mashup
of source and style. Yet how simply it's ar-
ranged: Green parrot. Periodic table. Phra-
ses you think apposite, until the arrow gla-
nces. Try the door, the stoppered vials, ba-
nk of little drawers. They reassemble you.
Notes. Some of the phrases in In a Time of Thirst are translations of idioms from other languages:
"May your mustache grow like brushwood" is a Mongolian expression meaning "bless you" (what one says after someone sneezes). "No hair on the tongue" is a Spanish expression meaning "straightforward". "My eye went with me" is a Maltese expression meaning "I fell asleep".
John Johnson is from California. His poems appear in Clade Song, frankmatter, Sky Island Journal, The Inflectionist Review, The Turnip Truck(s), and Triggerfish Critical Review. He is co-translator, with Nancy J. Morales and Terry Ehret, of Plagios/Plagiarisms, the poetry of Ulalume González de León, published by Sixteen Rivers Press. Volume 2 of Plagios/Plagiarisms will be available in April, 2022 from Sixteen Rivers Press.