Clade song 3 Banner
Clade Song 3 Left

Clade Song 3

Loose Talk
Because the dead don’t leave us (where else have they to go)
we hear them, their wordless patter, chewing the fat, say,
over some small mammal steeping in the grass,
chatting up beetles, shooting the breeze with a crow,
or at night, throwing their voices, rumbling in the gut (ruminating),
as we sink in our berths, helplessly drifting toward sleep.
In the empty pool outside the motel window (plash of palm fronds,
shush of wind) someone threads the slender heart of the breaststroke
while the cat we buried (hollow bone of cholla) cries at the door,
calling out for marrow, ligament, articulation.
Next morning, I’m sitting in my car, sun over sea-stained mountains,
jargon of birds in the date palm, bees on a century plant, its
flowering stalk, their bourdon of wings. Across the parking lot,
crouched in a sandy wash, a boy with a magnifying glass
looks closely at something, or tries to set it on fire. He sings to himself.
A lullaby. Maybe a hymn. I can’t make out the words.


Clade Song 3 right
John Johnson

John Johnson’s poems have appeared in BOXCAR Poetry Review, Chaparral, The Comstock Review, DMQ Review, The New Guard Literary Review, OVS Magazine, Triggerfish Critical Review, Verse Wisconsin, and Web Conjunctions. You can find more of his poetry at