Marci Rae Johnson

Marci Rae Johnson teaches English at Purdue University North Central. She is also the Poetry Editor for WordFarm press. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Collagist, Quiddity, Hobart, Redivider, Redactions, Books & Culture, The Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Louisville Review, The Christian Century, and 32 Poems, among others. Her first collection of poetry won the Powder Horn Prize and was published by Sage Hill Press in 2013, and her second full-length collection will be released by Steel Toe Books in 2016. Her poetry chapbook won the Friends of Poetry chapbook contest for Michigan authors in 2014 and was published by Celery City Chapbooks.

A Young, Cool Stephen Hawking Standing With His Bride

We go about our daily lives understanding
almost nothing about the world: her arms,

the black and white flowers, heavenly bodies
in the sky. This is my brief history

of happiness: someone loved me once,
though my body was already learning

the grave – the flesh, the stench
of my mouth in the morning when I spoke

of the so-called fixed stars attest to this.
In the photo leaning, I’m falling, the gravity

of the situation impossible to measure,
the lace of her dress barely brushing

my dark-suited arm, the vein of hands.

The Parable of the Great Banquet

I have bought 5 yoke
of oxen to mow the unruly
hair of the dead body
out back where the vultures
gather: leaves from last
year’s disappointment,
the stumps that refuse
digging and flogging and all
other forms of affection.
If I put my arms around
the tallest oak and kiss
the dark root, eat the splinter
bark that splits the tongue.
If I lay down in the field
and turn my eye to branch
and sky. Oh taste and see
that the tree is good and lives
deeper beneath than above,
grows like a secret in the dark.



photo by: joiseyshowaa