Julia Johnson

5 Poems


The mag­ic num­ber, thinks the girl.
Her fear of writ­ing is years-long.
She remem­bers the unmov­ing stars in the sky,
A qua­ver, a per­cent­age of a note, but she can­not be sure.
The maids are milk­ing.
The girl counts her top row of teeth and counts them again.
She finds her­self wan­der­ing in pago­das.


I learn of the uni­tary per­fect, har­mon­ic divi­sor, four-bit bina­ry.
My moth­er told me six geese a‑laying are giv­en a present.
And do you know of the poly­dactyl hand? Lucky!
Cells of a bee­hive honeycomb–why not count them?
The mole crick­et spends its day in base­ments.


Becky blast­ed us with bare nets.
Her shifts were lim­it­less and grassy.
When she first appeared we thought
she was ghost­ly, a rever­sal of her­self.
Her light hair was stip­pled with blue.
She under­stood us only by read­ing the way
our mouths moved.
We held our arms out
under the cloudy sky. Her skiff leaned.


In the smooth adher­ence of cloud to sky,
the box­cars are lined up and edg­ing out.
Barns are the sub­jects of draw­ings,
a carv­ing is strong and just a carv­ing in stone.
Berries ripen in the hand.
The sim­ple bed is too soft.


The chan­nel is fill­ing up with gray water and soft boats.
My hand is a carv­ing spoon.
I have wan­dered out onto the dis­pos­able shelf.
This is trou­ble free.
The shoul­der blades are even.
I am used to their coun­ter­point match­es.
The wig is loose on my head, spines of books, even
from this near dis­tance, are blurred and unread­able.
I shuf­fle clos­er. The char­ac­ters, of which there are eight, seem
like curls of steam from the sur­face.


Julia Johnson