Six Poems by Luke Johnson

Memory

of my nana
rocking

with an afghan
on her lap

and asking
if I see the boy,

the one she lost,
standing

by her bed
and begging

for water,
Sinatra

quietly singing.

*

Memory

of my sister
swinging

both her arms
in summer air

and squeezing
sunlight

like an orange
in her teeth,

the bees
still busy then,

flowers.

*

Memory

of the rotted oak
I’d climb inside

to calm on days
when daddy

found his rifle’s
acoustics

pleasing,
how I’d fall asleep

to flies vibrations
and wake

at night
to my name

being called—
my mother

flicking a match.

*

Memory

is a pill my
mother lost

in the drain
and her

desperate
for more.

A blue kite
blurred

into yellow—

*

Memory

of a bag of quails
dragged through gravel

and my dad
above them smiling

as he plucked
the feathers

then slit
each belly open

so the heart
could splash

inside a bucket
and darken

as the hours
fell like aphids

from the apple blossoms
and gathered

around my feet.

*

Memory

of my dad
too sick

to stand
on New Year’s Eve,

how he
reached

to find
my fingers

and asked,
if ever, I

think of cardinals
thrown

through
a window

in the dark,
a deep whistle

torn
through sky.

*

Luke Johnson lives on the California coast with his wife and three kids. His poems can be found at Kenyon Review, Narrative Magazine, Florida Review, Frontier, Cortland Review, Nimrod, Thrush and elsewhere. His manuscript in progress was recently named a finalist for the Jake Adam York Prize, The Levis through Four Way Press, The Vassar Miller Award and is forthcoming fall 2023 from Texas Review Press. You can find more of his poetry at lukethepoet.com or connect at Twitter at @Lukesrant.

Two Poems by Seth Jani

Dance

Like everyone,
haunted by the past,
I hear the slipshod music
of a distant summer
loosening its bloodred grip,
easing-up, not on the heart,
but on the memory of itself,
until I’m left with the blur
of vanished faces
and the glittering, indistinct desires
prowling the fabled hall.

*

Hunger

Even with time passing through
the jeweled carcass of summer
I still find myself
climbing the dim hillside
to take the moon into my hands,
that dark bread, which all my life,
has fed my longing,
has made my hunger shine.

*

Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). Their work has appeared in The American Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, Ghost City Review, Rust+Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. Visit them at http://www.sethjani.com.