Saturday, June 28, 2008

Declaration of INTERdependence

This being the last Saturday before the 4th of July, I joined the stalwart group of anti-war activists who spend every 11- 12noon on the corner of Main, King, & Pleasant Street in Northampton. I haven't joined this group in so long, it feels like it was my first time, but more accurately, I've probably joined in there three times in the past eight years (they protested the sanctions before the war). Anyhoo, inspired by the guerilla poetics of Nathaniel Siegal and Susan Brennan of Brooklyn, from whom I took a workshop called "Off the Page & Into the Streets," while I was a the Split this Rock! Poetry Festival -- I handed out quarter-page sized documents (on parchment paper) that said the following (I'm hoping the elaborate script [black ladder font] comes through on the posting, but I don't think it will...):

Declaration of Interdependence

I am

(not at war)

with you.

X __________________

X __________________


Thank you, too, to my etheral friend, Roy at Return to the Center, who has become a regular dude on the Saturday morning anti-war scene in Newburyport and describes his experiences there regularly on his blog. I found it very anxiety producing to be there -- not because I was worried about mean pro-war forces. Nothing noble like that. This anxiety was totally social. I actually rode my bike in this humid soup of weather, got there, walked around scoping the place out, and almost left without staying. Then I gave myself a good talking to and forced myself to join the group of but strangers. Since I can be a bit of a misanthrope, joining a group of strangers is a highly anxiety-provoking experience for me. Well, I stayed. Yeah for me. -- KJ

Friday, June 27, 2008

STR! links to Sweetest Hangover

Is it way too self-aggrandizing to write this post, which is about a web site's link to my poem, Sweetest Hangover, an earlier post on my blog? Alone in my house for a few precious hours, I'll say the jury is out on that one...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


for Pat, now Patrick, from a long time ago

Stroking the uneven fret board

that is the rise and fall of your breath,

my finger finds its perfect indentation,

where sides, right and left, become center.

There, a generous hollow

suggests essential absence,

which I fill.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston


Abrupt heart flutter,

adrenaline’s lash.

Twisted ankle at topmost

pitted concrete stair

damp from morning’s

thunder letting.

Half vision crumpled below:

instinctive headshake, image gone

except behind closed lids.

Solid each foot,

grounded heel to toe.

Mindful of body borrowed,

still mine

for now.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ever the Romantic

I think this sounds better aloud than just read. It's not deep, just personal. KJ

How long his forehead pressed to glass,

could it be the whole school year past?

Boy waving on bus from home to school,

hoping that someone, me or you’ll

cotton to the notion and mirror the motion.

Did he start in September, back in the fall

which is when you & I met, not expected at all.

I remember your fingers strumming,

me, you, your guitar humming.

I placed my palm on the small of your back,

the heat from that momentary contact

still tingles my hand, sensation grand

& utterly unplanned.

It would be so easy: call it mere crush.

Aren’t I always so quick to rush?

The impulse to discount the attraction,

deny the chemical reaction,

degrade to pleasant distraction.

Then in February again we stood

together at the pagoda in the wood,

all fleece collar & knit hat,

talking this, talking that.

Your restless hands on café table;

me, both full & empty, not quite able

to do more than sip ginger tea,

everything coming out awkwardly.

The sun blazes, a time to cheer;

school’s sweet release is near.

Summer promises everyone, pass or fail,

a chance for adventurous tales.

Soon at your home I will appear,

behold you in your own sphere,

my heart full of both hope & fear.

For some reason, my heart is patient for you.

What is between us? Friendship? Love so true?

At this point, there’s no way to know,

only the prospect of seeing time flow.

Now is not the moment, it’s clear.

Children must grow up not there, but here.

In the meantime, I’ll flirt with more than a few.

Probably take a lover or two.

Definitely get a third tattoo.

Not really sure what you will do.

Yes, these feelings may disappear.

But what should I do? Shed a tear?

I choose to be that hope-filled boy

waving with undemanding joy

to the urban indifference,

waiting for a moment’s chance

that someone will be brave,

return his wave. And it’s true: I do.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston