John Philip Johnson has had poems published in numerous venues, many of them slipstream or genre. His comic book of graphic poetry, Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town, won second place in last year's Elgin Awards. His work can be seen at www.johnphilipjohnson.com
You, in the Plural
In the baby ward
she held up the big bang for you,
and said its rhizomatic sprawl of sparkles
was just for you, for your eyes only,
held tight in the loopy black swaddling
of that which did not exist.
She herself then smiled as she disappeared.
Across your bedroom walls,
as though living there in miniature,
headlights of the milky wayfarer
spray back and forth before you:
This is the cosmos of ephemeral stars!
All the fireworks find themselves
in the camera obscura of your eyes,
righting themselves in you and in
the expanding crowds of you.
The roar of the jet,
the rampage of air,
the hurling of endless populations
against the alloy of our intent.
Atoms howl, stressed and astounded—
not at the suction of air
or the presence of lift
or that we rise.
They are a chorus of the presence,
nature shrieking in wonder
at the man-gods,
at the lateral rip our motion gives
to the face of things.
O My Element
Drawn breath, you are
my ubiquitous blue lover,
soft oceans twinned with open air.
How deeply you reach me,
grasping iron, rusting
the river of my blood,
mining the smallest places.
You glut in the burning
of my inmost body.
The Blue in His Pallor Mocked the Sky
Forty years ago, David left the party naked
and on acid, and it was snowing so gracefully
he saw the beauty of god drizzling marvelously
in a gentleness, a slowness, cracked just above time
and hanging there, with myriads of angelic messengers,
and as he stood on the snowy ridge, he was gasping
with awe because the town and the river below were both
fully alive, the same way he was alive, and even as he slipped
in the slick, snow-sodden earth, he could feel the meaning
in that fall and was laughing gloriously at the wonderment
of falling like that, and even when he hit the river he was letting
himself expand into the cosmic wheel, even as he was gurgling
with water, it was the multitude of the endless brotherhood
eternally filling his lungs, joining him, leaving his body as a relic
for us to find downstream, nested in the banks, three days later.