Luke Johnson


This poem has a house
and a field

and beyond the field

a feral grove of olives
and lemons,

where a woman
once laid a baby on a stone

and wove gas in his hair

wept as it rose
into flames.

Her lover stood
a few feet back

begging a bucket
of water, anything,

but she bound his lips
with a kiss

and took his hand, swallowed
his sorrow in bed.


This is a poem more
about rain.

About the sudden gales
that woke from the field

and shook the house
threatened to tear it away.

How the woman would
not wake from sleep

as hale cracked windows
ripped through fence

rattled the back door
with rage. And how

her lover — a man no
older than 40 — fell

on his face
and begged his boy

back from sky.

How the boy
would not come

how sky would
not answer

how light was left

in the static of rain.

How a rope
and a rafter

and a chair kicked loose,

brought him
his sweet Jeremiah,

swaddled in cloth
and still kicking.

—previously published in Chiron Review

0-26LUKE JOHNSON lives on the California Coast with his wife and three kids. His poems can be found at Kenyon Review, Narrative, Florida Review, Thrush, Valparaiso Review, Nimrod, Tinderbox, Greensboro Review and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Award and his chapbook, :boys, was published by Blue Horse Press in 2019.

Author’s note: “‘Jeremiah’ is the second poem in an Americana Fable in Verse. It follows a woman through a labyrinth of grief, using the natural world to juxtapose her home and her inner shelter.”

Other works

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