Poetry: Selections from Adam Johnson

Larson's day

Larson's constructed and stacked
feigns pleasures and confiscations
shakes head, weeps
it's morning
at Coney Island he tries to
kill his self with embalming fluid
makes a most indubitable foofooraw
of a woman's petticoat
as he was after a chaser of sorts
the fluid don't do the trick
goes home, smokes in his Caddy
a cherry red hearse, pledges plenty
of things
sees an old classmate from the gold rush
attempts egress, can't make it
screams at the windshield
locked in his own car
afternooninig receding to chiming
and the winds and the like
Larson grabs a dice lock, up pulls
redeploys to his habitat
locks door, slumps, turns on a
tv to play catch with
says which? – an advert for not scamping
there's an old fruit salad
he eats it with his counter soap
and something stronger
Larson likes his schnapps

attached garage, 1997

"recognize" by warren g plays form a stereo inside
we are in the garage
the smoke from kool brand menthols fills the air
it is a mix of cigarettes and gasoline spills
half the boys in this garage want congress with each other
but would kill themselves before they admit it
all of their uncles have already taken them hunting
and taught them to hate queers
there are two sets of boxing gloves
the boys are passing them around
little one round matches where we fight
i am in a corner, i am a pussy
out of nowhere i am sucker punched by a bare fist
some guy i barely know
he came from the side
his little blitzkrieg
he's shorter than me, but scary
he yells faggot in my face
it is articulated as "figgity, figgity, faggot!"
an old 90s routine...
i'm in shock
my face hurts
i slink, vibrate
watering mince pies, i am in flight mode
i find a door to the outside
i run
i am running from him
i am still running from him
i was 14
i ate lunch in the library for a year
i wasn't afraid of him hurting me
i just couldn't stand the humiliation of it all
i couldn't show my face
i learned how to survive alone in my little cubby
i learned how to track the human species
i catalogued hair, scents, the sounds of a contained society
i peer-reviewed
at home i downloaded music from kazaa and
watched howard stern on E in my room
i am now 38, i am a plastic surgeon, and a bachelor
i am afraid of running into him at
a gas station, a shop, picking out a card for his wife maybe
because i still think of killing him
i think of a blade entering
in any event, ultra quiet
i keep one in my car
it is a range rover
but i don't want to go to prison
not yet anyway
there is no death to one's childhood
and i refuse to give it up
it's just some kind of horrific continuum, all the way
there are only years
and heartache

Larson's jury trial

Larson whims
goes full drag near Wall Street
fights a bottle within him
he is done up extraordinary
clumped furs
a choker, pumps glazed and dazzling
some face paint...
has his pocket book
and brass knuckles
he sets up a soapbox and
starts to cook gas with strangers
giggles, shrieks,
stomps out a dog
before many a ganderer
suredly he is naughty
and found out, stripped of his coat
to the ground he hurls
cuffed, hauled
many who seen him dog kill have
him on phones
they are all evidentiary
say they, "the look in his eyes"
(witness statements inscribed)
Larson is hauled off to the city jail
there, the coppers pose
Larson dummies up, wants a sodapop
aggravated cruelty to animals
the statute is codified long past
and read in open court
the jury is sworn, seated, bored
Larson says he only have been dog stealing
not killing nor its attempt
botched grab, testifies, crocodile tears
his lawyer proffers tissue, pause
cases rests, 12 people retire for 5 minutes
they return, the verdict is read
Larson serves 14 days
and is ordered into programming
for his brain

Adam Johnson lives in Minneapolis. His first collection of poetry, What Are You Doing Out Here Alone, Away From Everyone? was published by HASH Press in December, 2021.