2 Poems by Joshua Johnston


Tinsel Town

Today, I am for the melting
down of lead toys into bullets
like in the Mel Gibson film
where he throws a tomahawk
into the center of a man’s forehead
from a distance of about ten feet.

I am for strolling into the pharmacy
with the blade of a tomahawk
wedged firmly in my forehead
and politely asking the tech
where the Tylenol is located
as the blood runs into my mouth.

It can take a lifetime to truly appreciate
the wisdom in the octogenarian’s final
words to his home healthcare nurse,
“The only honest way to wear
a bathrobe is with the front open,”
but as the mic cable shorts out

mid-performance, I know it is clicking,
know I am for a new pornography
dedicated solely to the licking of scars
earned by falling out of open windows
with bath towels tied on like capes.

_________________________________________________

Minor Sacraments

“Minor sacraments” was how
Herzog referred to bribing
the hotelkeeper in Machu Picchu
who’d finally grown sick
of the sound Kinski’s wife’s body
made when hurled against the wall,
the cameraman waking at four each morning
to discreetly scrub the blood splatters.

Burden called it “Through the Night
Softly”, the crude, black & white
footage of him writhing across a parking lot
covered in broken glass on his bare stomach,
briefly broadcast to all of Los Angeles
in the ten seconds of airtime that he was able
to afford, preceding a commercial
for Safeguard deodorant.

I called it “A Century after the Invention
of Flight”, the way the boy stood,
arms crossed and shivering at the edge
of the diving board, vomiting
a mixture of cherry Kool-Aid
and hamburger into his mouth
then trying to decide whether to spit it
into the water below or gulp it back down.

“Lifelike” was how I referred
to the mannequin, keeping the faded
plastic reindeer company in the attic
until the beginning of October,
when we assigned him a new name,
smearing dyed corn syrup across his face
and propping him against some hay bales
on the front lawn.

______________________________________________
Joshua Johnston was the new millennium’s first recipient of the annual Caneyville PTO 3rd Grade Spelling Bee trophy, among other frighteningly noteworthy accomplishments. He lives in Kentucky.