Vanessa Couto Johnson – 2 poems



the original seriatim

I think the Captain Kirk level of body-fat is good. And the lean mass, too. Done but not overdone.

This isn’t being superficial. The body is a function of how your personality explores space.

When something approximating a whoopee cushion approaches Spock, I know that reactions are what validate. It is a parasite because the reactor Leonard Nimoy sighs pain.

What is the color of your shirt. Black that stain-hides, not boldly. Head haired on full.

The bodies on the monitor don’t exist anymore—at least not in those forms. I raise my eyebrows for nothing.

If you tell me there’s a frontier, I’ll heed. But I don’t think you can take the heat of a star. You know you sweat enough on Earth. Oh yes, your body performs worldly well. You’re not going anywhere.




{Note: this poem is a constraint-based erasure of “The Head and the Heart” chapter of Dylan Evans’s Emotion: The Science of Sentiment}

We present pinpoint spots up to the clear-hearted.  

Our de-focused spotlight drifts to a loud, maximum object.

Pay to enlarge the background; but, sometimes, a recall is in order.

A free-floating original is useful in shadows’ alley.

When rape shows up, the trick is to screen its ink with a match. Pay, so the word is printed and the ink is paralyzed. Two or three half-dreams require binding to forget.

An antique pot, an old movie, guesswork so fresh our accounts are filled and filed.

We recall bicycles that fade when knocked down by a car.

A current marker is labeled as hypnotic, tagged as artificially induced.

We test prearranged students for sets of mock answers.

Take the survey to a suspension bridge, and the hostages hire for phone calls to strangers.  When one’s captor listens to football, rush into the trenches.  A first-year student ran to wine.

The happy dirty people swayed so automatically.

The height of the bars good for the figures (the higher the bar and the figures, the more the group as weak).

We can switch the human brain, fast and frugal, at our disposal in the next check-up.

We want to vacuum the individual and the collective, to positively cancel.

Two columns are supposed to be better than a single judge. We key the amygdala to capacity.  We program the jury to not be liberating. You are knit darkly and tightly.

Use humor for them to buy products of the dark side.

Your blurbed breakfast rockets past a billboard; fiends have been noticing.

The screen’s mainstream brings nostalgic reassurance.

Their brains bit the subliminal picture of smiling.

When we disable the human gut, we will store the operation. Two slides of faces are not the first. It is crucial to turn the subjects into complete amnesiacs. We destroy the doctor’s hand.



Vanessa Couto Johnson earned her MFA from Texas State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Little Patuxent ReviewEratioHot Metal Bridge100 Word StoryWord Riot, and elsewhere. She runs, blogs at, and has a BA in both English and philosophy from Rice University.


At the edge of a great snowfield Louie Otesanek grew different shapes and shades. His palms are wide and dark and mingled with the highest sky. See more of his work here.





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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