Jeff T. Johnson – 5 poems




In the end that was worth it. Zero
Tolerance busted us again and a gain

The queer things I say to you like
Pregnant women holding hands

And you laugh like BABY FIGHT.
So many pronouns, so little referents,

So point de capiton! Anchors lipping
On the shares. Dimples dock the coupon

To the thing. Occupied signs cast over us
The sky’s unfurling message abroad—

School is the thing. The place is the thing.
The thing is a voucher for the thing.

The president is black. Sorry, dad.
Still the debate lurks on. Here’s to your health

Care is for hippies; the road, paved
With banana, peels. The back of the line

Is always subverted. Somehow, white
People write in urban dialect. We know

Better but we also know worse. Once I said
A bad word in the front yard and boy

Did I get it. Thanks, dad. We have a graceful kind
of non-absence, filling a sense of missing content

With ourselves. This one’s for the cheap seats
Dotted with spare fans. You know what they say:

Approach the game as part of the approach,
Or, watching the game is part of the game, or

To enter a stadium is to grasp its devices,
By which I mean the joystick, by which I mean

The joystick, right? Press the red button on top
And learn how it feels to feel yourself

In space. Now that’s what I call perspective.





For some reason this story
Reminds me of something, even

Though I cannot remember
What it reminds me of.


—David Markson


One doesn’t need—no matter how
Off-putting one might be—to 

Know how something is remembered
To remember it. Nothing in particular, of course

                To look at the window is to read text

Witnessed in Public

          Traditional narrative
          Verses self-arranging

Passages linked by portals of repetition
Which reveal the work the reader always does

            To make sense of what one might call
            The book, though the story also works, as

     One in the mouth is worth two on the page

The Second Person

     In the right hands the book is narrowing
     The reader’s response is to rearrange the words

             As events follow an ordinary pattern, or
             A self-evident one. To silence is

      To leave open. No. To turn the page is to
      Swallow narrative. Or

             The blank line is the opening




                      DOUBLE BUILD


                                    The secret [is] [/] [in] the sighs

                             Not the stripes but the bees

                                    In the blaspheme
                                    “ “ caroline
                                    “ “ borrowed glance

                                    In the puffy huff 

                                    In the phoneme

                                              folder meat 

                                              witty hands

                                              Glancing trades
                                    By the glance fuel
                      Come here      cigar

                                                         to reveal
                                   Dot dot dot

                                         Show use how to leer
                                          it calls another hover

                                                      Strike that list
                                                      Lying the paper dancer
                                                      Danger and danger

           The palace stranger
                                 Entry where the right
          Land gauge stuck are door 

                                  No while resist
                                   What else year
                                   Do wing noun

                                  Oh / Ooh / Huh

               Statements surround the structure






              Obviously they’re getting waxed
              Tonight the frayed sediment calls

Every name it thinks
                                      We deserve

    Do you know what they mean?
                                               Our nothing

                       Apposite your desperate comeback
                       We’d like to see your mirror strategy.

The killer says

                                   With a knife
                  Or something less like

A transistor radio to the temple:
What’s the frequency, what’s your name?

                                         It’s like that. A tautology
                             Doesn’t know what you mean. After all,

                             Dads wading in the stream. It’s not
                             Technical if it’s not right. Water over

          Influence: Here’s the life left behind.
                The word play gets the best of us

                       Because we give in. Like arms we no longer
                       Trust we can’t help the way we turn out. This

              Is the last clear sentiment. We lose
              Everything turning into ourselves.






Outside the western font
light early mastery
fellow entry
settlements awry
on streets selected in
the on the way to
fund opinions in galley
-tucked response symmetrics, as if
where you draw the line, comma
which parts of and the end of
the end of rhyme, comma
exits like barriers
              We almost tear
the Pope’s German

accent vines
up the antecedent nicely but
our billing cycles never meet
stances lavender in bushes
              I only want the same thing,
then something else

with a cutted collar forcing
piano seconds, rich fuss
pegs holding vamps to
list or pageant, geometry space
              The colors of movies and the hold
dusking average severance

approach to angry feast
                           Did anything diminish
in the untoward focal coward staunches

or the owner of a plotting lily
out in the plan, dusting comet
elsewhere blister rust textures
not that idle blending while
compartments weaken puddle simper
under decoration or etcetera
              Here’s the plaster you require



Jeff T. Johnson’s poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in 1913 a journal of forms, Boston Review, Slope, VOLT, Caketrain, and The Laurel Review, among other publications. He was a finalist for the Iowa Review Award in Poetry for 2010. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and is on the editorial staff at LIT and Dewclaw.


About gobbet

gobbet is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the very best experimental poetry and prose. Intellectual perversity and explorations of dark themes are positively encouraged. We are only interested in work that is progressively experimental. We want to see risks, and we want to see them pay. No previously published work. Prose should not be longer than 1000 words. There are always exceptions. Send 3-5 poems. Include a short bio. Send submissions to Work will be published every 5-10 days. We also intend to publish anthologies of selected work published in gobbet. We will do our best to reply promptly. Most submissions will receive a decision within a month.
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1 Response to Jeff T. Johnson – 5 poems

  1. Pingback: poems online « Jeff T. Johnson

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