Five Spring Poems by Gael Johnson

By Mike Johnson

Well, the alive poetry thread has not been that alive lately, so it was wonderful to receive these poems from Gael Johnson from Gt Barrier Island.




Spring 2014


A Swan


Maybe it’s a swan or a hearing aid

Possibly it’s a memory aid to stop the confusion my children visit upon me

“don’t you remember?”

Of course I do


I remember a swan that became a hearing aid

Isn’t that enough?

How can you not understand that what I am looking at is a small spot of paint on my floor?

It is a swan Lithe and Beautiful.


And another one

bites the dust

Outliving our bodies; requiring replacement knees, hips, hearts

Requiring the blood of the young

To live beyond one’s given work, outlive one’s swan

To live into poverty and not be able to cut wood

Wood and a swan, I do not need a hearing aid



The problem is wood

Wood cut wood unchopped wood to burn wood to be split

The problem is wood, it will rain again and again

Of course it will

Well where is the nicely split wood to burn?

Burning with pain

Burning in my chest

Determined not to eat salmon fed on offal

Whitebait fed on chicken shit

Determined to live an ideal: wood


A Gun

I have lived as a swan; calm, silent engaged only with water and eternity

Now I live with wood; the need for it, the difficulty of it, the intractability of it

The damned confusion of defending my soul from derision:

I can remember many dances of the soul, slow graceful dances and exhausting nights of impassioned non-sleep

exhausted by wondering if I have heard correctly, if I observed correctly?

Was that a gun the 9 year old had in her hand or a phone?

It wasn’t a swan.




Today I saw a swan

curled inside my daughter, waving at me

knowing I was not confused, waving at me from that interior place

A swan possibly forming: from fish to frog to bird to soul to swan curled into a safe place

dreaming of wood, dreaming of blue open waters, dreaming of flying