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Two Poems // Faith Johnson




SUMMERTIME


The cicadas came out again and All three boys from up the street shaved their heads, Their scalps are turning a deep shade of pink,

Sizzling and blistering like bacon in a pan,

Hunched over the sidewalk,

Cargo shorts torn, Slipknot shirts smelling chalky and

sweaty.


One of them (The oldest) Sprinkles a pinch of salt onto the slimy back of

a slug.


Another one (The youngest) Chuckles through his wonky teeth That lean and poke like an old cemetery,

He picks his nose and eats a dry booger.


The middle one is blind in his left eye And the right one is starting to fail him but

he laughs along anyway.


I approach them on my scooter,

Barefoot, Sporting a pair of shorts That I cut from a pair of Goodwill jeans

And tell them that

My mom doesn’t like it when they kill slugs

In our driveway


They call me a dyke and tell me to go away

And I, Hot with anger and Virginia heat, Tell them that they are ugly,

Which does not harm them.


Boys who point their naked heads Toward the sun After their scalps have already begun to bleed and

Ooze Cannot be harmed by the words of a neighbor girl,

And I, (The neighbor girl) Decide in that moment Not to be harmed By the words of filthy boys Who see me for what I am and Hate me for it.


They rise from their low squats,

Hop on their dirt bikes and

Pedal uphill Out of sight,

Leaving the dried up slug

At the end of my driveway.



Family Life Education (F.L.E.)


My teacher spits a mouthful of sunflower seeds

Into a tin can While the grainy image of a woman Gives birth

On a torn projection screen.


The girl sitting beside me vomits

Into a garbage can By the pencil sharpener, She asks to go to the bathroom

To brush the carnage

Out of her braces.


Teacher nods,

Girl scurries out,

Baby cries.


Moist Virginia heat creeps in From the cracked window In the back of the classroom Like a snake that has Escaped from a barrel of hot water,

My neck sweats.


A single seed

“Dings” Into the can.


I wonder if the new mother

On screen Feels as repulsed as I do

By her husband

Who stands in the corner of

Of the delivery room And cautiously Holds her hand.


Did she hold her breath

During conception?


Were her eyes closed?


I attempt to build

My own husband

In my mind:


His arms are veiny And he wears leather shoes,


He shifts his weight

Nervously From one foot to the other

As he cheers me on From the corner Of my delivery room.


When I sculpt is hands

In my imagination,

My stomach pulls,

Resisting

Like a puzzle piece being jammed

Into the incorrect corner.


My neck sweats.


When will I dream of boys

Panting beside me In dark childhood bedrooms?


Maggot Rock

Humming low

Around us Like a swarm of flies.


The vomit From the garbage can

Mixes with the hot air

Of early June,

Forming a pungent

Paste,


The girl returns, Braces picked clean, She smells of

Public-School Hand Soap.


I pass her a piece of gum

From my backpack.


She smiles.

Our fingers touch

Lightly As she takes it.



AUTHOR

Faith R. Johnson is an emerging poet from Virginia. She is based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan where she lives in lesbian bliss with her partner, Indigo, and their many pets. Faith is a recent graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and her work can be found in The Minetta Review, The Esthetic Apostle, and Egg y Pan Magazine. Faith's writings often reflect on suburban upbringing and LGBTQ+ identity.

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"Untitled (Detail)" by Maria Patsopoulos

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