Poetry

THE SWEETEST TEA

A year ago I promised myself

I would move slowly

only with purpose

out of a desire for self-preservation,

a need for economy of emotion

and to focus on the babies

in my nest.

In that year, time has slowed

wounds have healed,

or begun to,memories have faded

hurts have slowly fallen away

as I open my hands

and let go.

What do I desire now?

Now that the long, cold

winter is ending?

I desire to sip from

the sweet cup of teat

hat has been steeping

for so long,

to be still long enough

to witness the precise moment

the green stem of the planted bulb

breaks through.

To be quiet enough

to hear all the ways

the world whispers

I love you.

POEM: NEW YORK CIRCA 1997

The photo is of you and me,
bundled against the elements, saltwater
spraying us as we bounce across the harbor
on a ferry smaller than we had expected.

We smile at the camera you are holding out
in front of us, your other hand
around my shoulder,
steadying me.

Behind us, slightly
out of focus, is the
New York skyline
the way it used to be.

Twin Towers
side by side
forever,
we thought then.

We didn’t know
I would soon leave you,
my unhappiness hidden
like a bruise slowly spreading
under the skin of my heart.

We didn’t know
as much about
ourselves or the world
as we thought we did
when we began this journey.

~ jessica johnson

 

 

SUPERMAN’S CAPE

Tell me again Superman
How sorry you are
for touching the Kryptonite.

And you, Icarus, for flying
too close to the sun.
I see your singed feathers,
can smell the burnt pride from here.

Do you have to make them into a head-dress
and parade around in front of your friends?

And you, dear Knight in Shining Armor,
your armor has been dinged.
Right there, it’s a small hole, can’t you see it?

In fact, now that I know it’s there,
no longer blinded by the gleam of your silver suit,
I am afraid it’s all I can see.

What a day you’ve all had, my Heroes.
How quickly your fortunes changed.
One step in the wrong direction
and you tumble off the pedestal.

What’s that?
Can I help you climb back up?
Oh no fine sir, you’ve got to do that by yourself.

This Wonder Woman has bullets of her own to dodge,
lives to save. In fact,
one of them may be her own.

~ jessica johnson 2014

EVERYTHING IS GLAD OF ME


The quails I disrupt
on their morning walk
scatter in flight,
their wings purring around me.

The ice floe of clouds
slowly shifts
to allow
a glimpse of the sea.

The 100 bees
I hear
buzzing in the tree
land, but do not sting.

The daffodils turn
their bonnet heads
to watch me
as I write.

The wind,
so strong a few days ago,
now sweetly blows
the hair from my eyes.

My shadow lengthens
as I grow
tall enough to touch
the rising moon.

The red bench
stays warm,
welcomes me with
my lover’s arms.

~jessica johnson 2013

Room 9: Immaculate Heart

I stayed in this room last time

I was here on retreat.

#9, my lucky number.

Immaculate Heart.

My heart was certainly

not immaculate then.

I tossed and turned

full of illicit desire and unrest.

I prayed for the courage to deliver myself

from such pain

such torment.

Give me strength, give me strength, give me strength. 

Is my heart now immaculate?

Now that my prayers for strength and courage

were answered?

Whatever pain and unanchored resentment

that remained

was surely blown far away

on the blustery wind I drove in on.

Any last crevices hiding

the dust of regret were cleared

by that frigid howling.

Is what’s left immaculate?

I ask again.

No, no, never immaculate.

I am human, after all.

The glaze that covers my heart

is full of imperfections.

Piercings from arrows that missed their mark,

cracks that healed improperly.

No, I wouldn’t say

immaculate.

Hopeful, I’d say.

Full of the scent of narcissus

and lavender.

Ambitious like the jet aiming high

over the mountain.

Undeterred, like the waves meeting the

sharp rocks of the shore

Slowly, gently, persistently

softening them

with their salty water.

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