Thursday, August 23, 2007

Swallows of San Juan Capistrano

svalow, svalow”

Put both my children

into a room full of strangers,

they become swallows.

San Juan Capistrano?

Soon-to-be discovered adopted kids.

Some enigmatic knack,

reliable as March 19

at the old Spanish mission,

compels them home,

knowing each other

in unknowable ways.

They won’t twitter about

their common bond.

Like their parents might,

adopted kids won’t talk shop:

How old were you?

Domestic or international?

Open or closed?

Sometimes they find

the kind of kid

who is a salve of belonging,

a consolation against freakdom,

a companion on this long journey.

Other times,

it’s the sort who picks scabs,

rubs salt in, makes sure that

misery not only loves company,

but makes more for good measure.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Book of Your Body

My mind’s eye

begins the story

of my needy finger tips

wending their way

along your arm.

I want to be blind & read you

like the Braille book that you are,

that you would be to me.

New chapters draw me in:

the roughness of your sharp elbow,

the musky forest where your arm

meets your utterly smooth chest,

the hollow where your ribs

meet well above your belly button.

You are a novel

I cannot put down,

will not put down,

will lie to my boss

& call in sick to finish,

leaving each page dog-earred

& meticulously consumed.

I am overcome

by the imagined sensation

of what each section

of your delicious body

would taste like:

the lull of sweet

as my lips graze yours,

seeking and confirming

our mutual delight;

the sting of your unshaven cheek

as my own cheek slides across,

then nudges, then pushes into yours;

the tease of sour as I nip, then bite,

the nape of your neck

& chew the lobe, my breath

hot & weighty in your ear;

the flirt of salt that lingers

on your shoulder blades,

each jutting out as I

grasp your arms behind your back,

an enticing resistance

urging us onward.

I see the moist notations

my tongue traces

in the margins

as I move downward

along your spine,

each vertebrae sighing

as my sweet breath hovers,

teasingly, there at that delicate place

where your one back

becomes two palmfuls of flesh .

My parted lips bounce over

the smooth texture of your hips,

solid & firm under kisses

as I turn your body

from back to front,

cover to cover,

bringing a swirling infusion

of tongue, lips, & breath

to your navel.

I am wet.

I cannot go on.

I blush at the thought

of putting to paper

what else my mind’s eye

has conjured.

Perhaps I have not made good

on my promise to complete the novel

of your enthralling body.

Or there remains a sequel

yet to be written.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston


Though I've been writing some new stuff, it's more a trickle than a stream. Not wanting to lose the habit of writing or nursing creative energy, I've been focusing on revision. Some are small and not worth mentioning, though I have made the changes on the poems in this blog.

Some, however, end up making a significant difference, worth highlighting here. For instance, two old poems now have new names and new form. What was once Honey-Tinted Treasure (and was one of my few prose poems -- it is still there, in November, 2006) is now The Book of Your Body, posted today. What was once Ode to a Good Fuck is now Business Meeting and doesn't exist on this blog in its previous state (Business Meeting can also be found in Novemeber, 2006). Both of these original poems were written before I started being more intentional about my poetry writing, before I started learning some formal poetry concepts (about which I still have a LONG way to go).

One of my pieces A Moment's Peace Apart was accepted for publication in the 2007 Equinox, but with edits. The original sits on this blog and when the Equinox emerges, I'll post the new version as well. There are other revisions, I'm pleased with this process. Learning alot.

Toodles. Karen

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Awkward dinner of new acquaintances,

multitudinous children surrounded us,

their delightful ways eliciting languid laughter.

We watched your son, then mine,

your daughter, then mine

place their flat palms solidly on the floor

to raise squatting bodies in ever greater feats

of upper body strength and personal fortitude.

This child’s contest done, you extended the challenge

and held yourself up an impressive length of time.

The children, having discovered distractions elsewhere,

only I was the admiring audience.

In the vibration of your straining forearms,

my own pulse quickened. I hardly knew you,

yet already bound by this bold tension.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Found Email Poems

Tonight at the Florence Poets Society, two poets read found poems -- one created from spam that made its way to her email address, the other from CosmoGirl magazine. It reminded me of two poems I wrote several years ago, chronicling a short-lived but poetically-inspiring love affair. Each is written following a different found formula. The first one, getting a little addicted to these emails, is comprised solely of phrases from a month's email correspondence, arranged to make sense, not using all the email.

The second, November, 2003, uses phrases from every email in that month's correspondence and are used in the chronological order in which they were sent and are in black font. Additional words and phrases are added (here in a different color) to make the poem coherent.

So here they are

getting a little addicted to these emails

all of a sudden I'm not

sure what the ground is

I'm walking on

drawn there, called there,

seen there, noticed, even held

pause on the precipice

what passes between us

might bring you to feel

elated and jittery

more than excited (phosphorous)

curiously shocking

i'm a little nervous

(ok really nervous)

melancholy bordering on occasional desperation

i went in shuffling and hunched over –

i came out renewed:

those woods held me

through staccato feelings and

thoughts bouncing in every direction

there are a number of reasons why

next week will be a little different;

amazed and not sure what it means

is it possible to reconnect with all the good?

yes yes yes

~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~

November, 2003

I wanted you to read this but you replied

I am out of the office.”

This is the metaphor, isn’t it?

Gone you are, not the first time, not the last.

But then you return and say:

we also talk, and i hope to talk with you

I send you a sweet tease, wonder

if you're not up to a flirt

but then

you signed "love"


(i honor the light within you)

and then confirm that

(yes, i did use that word the other day, didn't i.)

I wanted to give you the out

even wrote it over and over to you

but then we had time together, alone, at night:

thinking backwith all its starts and stops,

anxieties and constraints,

its intent and loving gazes.

our touching is a potent combination

of tease and promise

but there must be

space, time, and emotional readiness

there for all of it.

And that is not there now.

And so you leave.

We are involved

and I don't know how to do it differently.

I think we can

set boundaries,

we can decide not to be sexual,

we can stop seeing

each other for weeks or months,

and we would still be involved.

Each exchange with you sinks me deeper, endears you to me.

I am not a goner,

but I would be

so disappointed,

so sad,

if we were to stop now.

We did stop now and I am sad.

It would be fine,

It will be fine

when we need to slow or stop altogether

We did stop now and it is fine,

At least in the daytime.

It is night that brings on the tears

And sometimes in the day.

a small parting gesture

you are beautiful. (say that last word slowly.)

you told me

after you left one of those precious nights,

i did a little dance,

held your glass and just had a good time for a few minutes

savor the sweetness that was

and jokingly wonder

do you ever put

stuff in these emails thinking ahead

to the next monthly summary poem?

me neither,” you quip.

just in case we can't figure out a way

to make this work

I want to say

wouldn't it be nice

and then I must stop myself

because it doesn’t help.

I have re-read over and overyouremails and

I am filled with such joy,

such light, such delight,

I just want to shout and share.

I want to hope

And then there are times when

i'm angry, put-out, resentful

and probably scared underlying it all

I think that we have both, separately and somehow together,

slipped beneath the still surface of the well of grief

I am with you.

all the feelings are swirling and swelling

your tears are precious and

your tears are precious to me.

There is so much I will miss:

i want to be outside in a snow-drenched wood

with you, warm enough to stay for a long time, to hear you tell

stories, to watch your face and your beautiful, expressive hands as

you do, i want to watch you unawares, communing with the snow, i want

to find your enthusiasm contagious, i want to ride on your exuberance.

There is so much you will miss:

earrings dangling and

so much more I can’t begin the list.

would you be willing for more?

You know my answer.

I think into the future, envision us,

A bit disembodied, third person:

they laughed;


realizing that this is a big wonderful first

remembering the first rush,

the feeling of

how large is this universe we have entered

that even without our first kiss

i can be so consumed by thoughts of you

and know there is still more?

There are moments when I know

You will find me

Knowing you said that

I forgot my hat but

You will not forget me.

It's all in you, it's all there –

either whole already, or the ability to

get what you need to be whole

And there are other moments when

I can't figure out,

am distraught,

and once again my computer tells me

that you are telling me

I am out of the office

And our last email sits in a

a field of bleak