National Poetry Month Day 10: Amaud Johnson


Or Idolator: Another Epitaph for Nino

your side chick has car trouble.

she has a light bill with an open mouth.
she eats finger sandwiches or fettuccini alfredo,
and keeps an ice cube in her glass of white wine.

she has the longest fingers and the coldest hands.
climbing into her, you keep dreaming of a lost boy
tugging at a string, as if the moon had unraveled

in the limbs of a gum tree.

you have such a cheese-eating-grin. and you are good
for two things: carryout and unwrapped gifts. sixty
years ago, she might have bled out alone on a gurney.

but there you go: wanting everything and nothing,
just another late lunch hour, washing your dick in the sink.


Raising Hell

Circling the arena floor like something near
Jurassic, or prelapsarian, like some heartsick

Caustic titan, jonesing for tribute, one hundred
Eyes and arms deep, one foul mouth, feeding

On anything. And some fool with his hat tipped
The wrong way, his fat laces the patina of pressed

Fruit. They’d just lick his seat clean and keep rolling.
Those fucking Insanes. And you know the way

A shadow moves, or how like muddled fruit, a cloud
Of blood drifts underwater, but we wouldn’t leave.

And for god’s sake, that was Whodini up front. We
Hadn’t heard sirens, any guns. We were singing

“Friends,” “One Love,” “The Freaks Come Out”
When the whole crowd started to run.

–Amaud Johnson


Amaud Jamaul Johnson is the author of two poetry collections, Darktown Follies and Red Summer. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, his honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Dorset Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2014, Callaloo, The Southern Review, and Narrative Magazine. He is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →