Poetry: Selections from Adam Johnson

poor max

max was a science major back in the aughts
he got a job at a research company
some kind of heart valve racket
then max met sadie through its just lunch
sadie was an english major turned transaction lawyer
sadie had a gin habit that would make oliver reed
look dry by comparison
she also did a little fentanyl, not much though
and cocaine
sadie opened max's eyes (mostly grunge scene garbage that
she got nostalgic over)
she showered max with praise
she did it to feed her ego, an old story
well sadie got max hooked on gin and then on coke
max tumbled, feigned, went down
he started to sleep in, missed work
he got a couple DWIs
he lost his job
he lost his wits
his teeth and eyes were yellowing
his hair was falling out
his fingers smelled like stale parliaments
then he lost sadie after a big row where
she ended up with his thumb prints all over her neck
sadie got an order for protection
she knew all the lawyers and judges
max got a cheap lawyer, but lost
he couldn't contact sadie for two years
max was in bad shape
he got evicted
he was living with his parents
he put on 100 pounds and found daily congress
with his hand
he got a job at the grocery store, got fired
then he got charged with some revenge porn bullshit
after he sent sex videos of he and sadie around
to all her friends and family one night
the night he tried to kill himself with
gin martinis
now he's doing hard time
after his little plea
poor max!

Larson and the Prisoners' Mail

Prometheus Larson is not like Phineas Gage
he ain't had no rod through his dome
and such
but he has opened discretely, prisoners' mail
he didn't hound the inmates for it
not likely
they did it of their own accord, Larson reckons
Larson is into his lollipops
Ring ting three rings for Larson
such as I said, candies and such
smoke rings escape him, as do gin hits
falling out of fashion, and down stairs
but Larson holds on
Larson is tired
Larson is tired of living like culture is dead
what's this he's geezed up
from inmate 414807, a ripsnorting halographic
Larson unpacks the meaning
this one's givin' me the razz says Larson
and up tears the letter standin'
dust bits into the abyss, only
it's a paper shredder
he ain't no greenhorn reader
like I said, three rings for Larson


berris worked on the dock at target
he drove the pallet jack
he had 30 minutes for lunches
he punched in and out
he wanted to die
but then at night he didn't want to anymore
once he had a couple coconut rums in him
he had three daughters
all of them in middle and high school
he was toughing it out
watching netflix
and hiding from everyone
scoring hits from his rum
and gambling online
then berris' got a wet lung
a little collapse from the inside
something small
then big
berris didn't want to go in to be seen
he didn't want the hospital bills
he toughed it out
then one day he fell in the yard
a neighbor found him back there
in the grass
and even though he was fully clothed
and had a sandwich by him
he was already
becoming part of the grass
starting to sink in
if you really think about it

Adam Johnson lives in Minneapolis.  His first collection of poetry, What Are You Doing Out Here Alone, Away From Everyone? is available now from HASH Press. 


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