Small things and I eat the world. The effervescent
fleeing burns in eating. After the fall
the musicians pack their instruments.
They smoke, they stretch, they try to sleep. The world
is after all a melody of eating.
All things brought to an end in consciousness
exist in me; the unconscious is god. God's
unwilled agony and grace are eating
away the world. This is a time of peace
within a time of war. The brisk form
of all that hangs is gnawed in recollection
and starts anew. The world's a storybook;
a strong breath is god. Each self consumes
its past, remains here to record its future.
Hot night. Humid. The meaning's gone out of it
into the aureoles of thunder dancing
along a horizon. Air sucks up the indraft
that spins into a funnel, razing houses
and breaking life away, just as Jacob saw
when angels climbed into the sky, but car parts
and fence posts now mount up. All property
is nothing in the air. The evaluation
after the passing of the tornado lingers;
some abomination rendered by god
illustrates old testament confessions
and other complications. It's all here;
God's unwilled act. Outside, surrounding us,
weather devours itself, soft as a school of fish.
ALLAN JOHNSTON’s poems have been published in Poetry, Poetry East, Rhino, and over sixty other journals. He is the author of Tasks of Survival, Departures, and Northport, a collection of poems about his life in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s, and a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination (2009), and First Prize in the 2010 Outrider Press Literary Anthology Poetry Contest. He has also received honorable mentions or placed as a finalist in contests featured by New Letters, The Academy of American Poets, Salute to the Arts, and the Roberts Writing Foundation. Originally from California, he earned his M.A. in Creative Writing and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Davis, and now teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago. He currently serves as a reader for the Illinois Emerging Poets competition and for Word River, and is editor of the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education. In the past he has worked as a sheepherder, shake splitter, roofer, forest fire fighter, Indian cook, and photographer, among other occupations.