FOUR POEMS by Julia Johnson


The seamstress describes the bodice and the rows
of seamstresses in training fold their fabric in ink to mark the pattern.
Their own green satin billows on the table next to each of them.
He goes on to describe the shirt.

We are seamstresses describing the bodice.
We fold our fabric in half.
We work the fabric with chalk.
We will wear our clothes once completed.
Our shape is average and we have pinned the excess.


The Fault Plane

You woke and found the switches pulled.
You fell onto the ratchet. Your head was a knob.
You were remarking and the side of your face
was a painting and it was a cement façade, a cart, a white sky.
You asked me if I was heavy, gave me simple cues as if recorded,
blocked signs, a pulley, a little mask to fit over my finger.
The flowers were set to full bloom.
Even the crease of your leg felt the hail.
You rode in your own steel cart down the driveway
and you were gone.


Displacement Surface

Her mouth is made of sod and turned up.
Sad mouth.
She likens herself to a mouse.
She sits like a curve.
Her arm like a bud.
She is habit to her own self.
Her wind is different from ours.
She rides a low bicycle in the day.
Her mother is dressed like a bride.


Subsidence I

A shock of flood. My father waits in the living room.
His house is gently shaking in the dark room pan. The pilings
are pins. My father waits every day for the newspaper, the mailbox not truly
floating, its red flag a sail. My father waits in the living room. The radio with last week’s battery. The cat jumps form the wide camper’s room to the tree, then deck.
The motors are killed.
The motors are killed.
My father waits in the living room.


Julia Johnson grew up in New Orleans. Her first book of poems, Naming the Afternoon, was published by the Louisiana State University Press. She was the winner of the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Third Coast, Poetry International, Cake Train, The Greensboro Review, and Washington Square. She nears completion of her new manuscript, Subsidence, which explores the natural and human complexities of the ever-changing and vulnerable gulf coast. She currently teaches in the Center for Writers at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

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