Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town

The best feature in the The Spokesman-Review is the poetry column which appears every Sunday. When it comes to poetry, I've always been a fan and, sometimes, a willing participant. Last year, there was a great poem by John Philip Johnson in the SR. Here it is:

Bones and Shadows
By John Philip Johnson

She kept its bones in a glass case

next to the recliner in the living room,

and sometimes thought she heard

him mewing, like a faint background music;

but if she stopped to listen, it disappeared.

Likewise with a nuzzling around her calves,

she’d reach absent-mindedly to scratch him,

but her fingers found nothing but air.

One day, in the corner of her eye,

slinking by the sofa, there was a shadow.

She glanced over, expecting it to vanish.

But this time it remained.

She looked at it full on. She watched it move.

Low and angular, not quite as catlike

as one might suppose, but still, it was him.

She walked to the door, just like in the old days,

and opened it, and met a whoosh of winter air.

She waited. The bones in the glass case rattled.

Then the cat-shadow darted at her,

through her legs, and slipped outside.

It mingled with the shadows of bare branches,

and leapt at the shadow of a bird.

She looked at the tree, but there was no bird.

Then he blended into the shadow of a bush.

She stood in the threshold, her hands on the door,

the sharp breeze ruffling the faded flowers

of her house dress, and she could feel

her own bones rattling in her body,

her own shadow trying to slip out.
I really liked that!

If you've ever read any of my fiction or attempts at poetry, you know that I enjoy stuff that's a little spooky and a little weird and, hopefully, beautiful at the same time. This poem did it for me.  I researched and found that Mr. Johnson had a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to put out his poetry in an illustrated fashion. I sent in my $7 and eventually received two full-color comic books of his poetry and some cool schwag. This was a lot more than what I was originally promised. I also received a PDF for my Ipad.

A couple of years ago I did some water colors and then hand printed "poetry" on them. Something cool about spending a lot of time painting something only to risk destroying the whole thing with a quick misspelling. I know that these professional illustrators weren't at risk of destroying an entire page of work when hand printing the prose. Yet when I read the hand printed poetry on top of the beautiful artwork, I still feel the risk involved. 

You can check out John's website here.

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