By the time I give up on poems, I won’t be thinking about fairies, about landscapes that fit on a stamp sized piece of soil, about animals talking about me as soon as I leave a room. I won’t be looking for new words for butterfly, or pizza parlor, or metaphors for losing myself, disguises for how much I enjoy getting high. By the time I give up on poems, I won’t come up with a meadow of chrysanthemums, the green smell of them, the tenderness of how they hold me, the unfolding of falling onto them, how they sound as they bend under my body. I won’t care too much to find a place for the word “break”, won’t try to give it two meanings. My people, I hate to say it, they’re hard people. My grandmother, at the end of her life, watched CNN, played sudoku, drank tea out of recycled gas station cups. Her cigarette smoke was a kind of jewelry, how it coiled around her, how it ornamented her head. She would never think of a poet to write it that way though. She would think of a spy novel, Tom Clancy. She would read to imagine the gun, for once, in her hand. Like once, I woke up to her crying. She was very old then. It was midwinter, no flowers, birds gone, and the floorboards threatened under our weight. I’ve tried for so long to write this all in a poem. I’ve tried for so long to get it finally, exactly, right.
Danielle Johnson is a barista by day, sellout by night. She coordinates Blossom Poetry in Phoenix, Arizona, where she lives with Ollie and Eli.