Brandon D. Johnson



it comes naturally
this failure
this refusal to close my eyes
I will not succumb
to fatigue
in fear that one night
just one
my people will come for me
will call my name
I being the only one
to save them
take them past dreams
into a new
from the bell
a peal only I can produce

a fear that my name
will carom city caverns
a long empty street
for me to come running
come with a hammer
come with a spear
come with pen and paper

and I
will be

photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis



at night, when bulb burned moths fall exhausted, mosquitoes tire
of blood and crickets no longer gauge temperature
when distant lightning speaks turmoil, but clouds
won't drop enough rain to cool earth
I think of you, alone in our bed, a widow of my insomnia,
of my wanderings with muses and the machinations of dark morning
you unable to fill each square of the mattress except with lament
and I cringe at my inability to succumb to sandmen
and songs long sung by sleep's sirens.

one would think that I'd learned, after years of nights
fearing I might miss something, that nothing is going to happen
that it is alright to give my eyes, my body, rest.
the Night should not be so strong a mistress. her legs have
not your luscious curve, her insistent voice has not
the mellifluous candor of even your complaints. and if Night
is succubus, is courtesan, her starry cloth falling to ground, begging
for a wish upon her body, I want to know why.

but my demon mistress does not frolic in unmindful brain
so, I must sit by the window, let tobacco smoke pass
for hookah hash, and candy for lotus blossoms hoping
that maybe my own wonderlands will appear, my head
resting upon my hands, praying that this....this is the night words
creep into my spine, bounce upon my brow, or settle in my soul,
and free me from the job of holding the world's pauses in my hands
so that I might spend my lifetimes giving you the comfort that
Night does not need

Brandon D. Johnson is author of Love’s Skin, Man Burns Ant, The Strangers Between, and co-author of The Black Rooster Social Inn: This Is The Place. He is published in Callaloo, Gargoyle, redbrick review and Potomac Review, as well as the anthologies Cabin Fever: Poets at Joaquin Miller’s Cabin, Drumvoices 2000, and Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s 1st Decade. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow. Born in Gary, Indiana, he received his B.A from Wabash College and his J.D from Antioch School of Law. He works with a information marketing organization in DC, where he lives with his family.


Published in Volume 10:2, Spring 2009.


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