Excerpt from “Johnny”
Johnny said he saw someone looking like young death all over & we figured that Something came out of the moon & thawed into a hill In a minute The entire world lessens so much in the same second Johnny said No one notices & that is saying heaven & getting it He said The motor gagged on a great fig It sputtering sounded like a catbird way out That sputtering turned to an installation An estuary It was not Then an organ It worked its way out to the vine & up to the pond Then through a bivouac We’d met the motor that mattered but it’d left long back It did work that takes place of living Johnny saw pulling a knife piece from a thief’s shin in the night & became modest & was right We noted space around the heart Smelled like fresh figs For the right guy Johnny was there & heard it & did a jig When we told Johnny it’s not the jig that matters but what it gets rid of The workers made a tonic got us To know this That tasted exact & odd & like rutabaga Someone set out with a knife with too many things They’d wanted to teach us The imaginary came back a brick wall to the rest Of us & the cows went into grief like old goblins In the field Then the stalls Then in the field Johnny once got into the most golden portion of one heart & then another A while later Johnny knew enough a thing about grief to get whacked On the tonic & we’d bring him home like sin Prop him near the pot Where he woke up a lotioned version Of the soul All loose on the god gene Johnny was a fiend No one had it quite straight Until they did For the time being It was best to smell the roses like you weren’t ready For them We cleaned once in a week Up on the scree Where there were all bluebirds going in packs eating porgy stuff We limped aside the rope Johnny had & found a world up high a place bulbed With lack & oddness Johnny had a god fig turned to a fig Once It worked up a storm a long way out In the field Johnny had a man turned to a god fig & bled it out like a trout A trout jumped like one Or another bled out In the pond with its hertz Johnny’d get some menthol prepared Until he had it good & then He didn’t So we went & said How about some of that star light broth For to reckon a bit of hell alright & went out to gather for the pot Just out in the field & upward That all’s been of the same at one point or before came clear To Johnny A toss of clocks rung & rung & went on ringing Ring ring we’d say See We’d say That’d be the passage of time right there Circling & he saw & got gladdened On the spot In the mud The beginning must have been a kind of living thing With the whites of an eye & the love taken right out of it Then came desire Then the workers like a young buck learning skeet Then was Johnny The passage of time made able Like a dwarf Cattled for like a good batch of sense down the walk In the dark There was the walk lead to the pew & farther out in the fog We’d take the darkness from the dark From the dark in the light One day We took it Johnny’d get cold about the birds Pulling out his dross bag to show us what else can be Got haggling About the arbor He jumped up & down on the dulcimer until all night it became The next thing it became Was a magick like a young achieveless man Pale from figs in dawn light traveling Past itself, then past the lathe, then to cows mooing dark moos Out past the vine Beyond where there now was a knifed one Losing hertz The motor was making awful good noise We’d tend to bid time’s passage the way most bought it With desire & guessing Johnny was once a dud run into love & then changed In the moon He took it like a thief takes out a knife He took it out on the dulcimer & the sound made the sound made When wit's perfect aside loss & pipes up & comes undone Way out we saw a fig move & made a mess To a toad We did that But in reverse We took its guts like a string puppet up into the fog
John Goodhue received an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A finalist for the 2020 National Poetry Series, recent work of his can be found in REALITY BEACH, Quarter After Eight, Seattle Review, and elsewhere. He resides in Portland, OR.