Three Poems by Yvette Johnson


Spork's Poetry
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Three Poems by Yvette Johnson



Some of the liabilities of college are the same as assets
in other parts of life. Like girlfriends.
They can help you go to work. They can give you
a false recommendation. This is an asset.
Before that they can steal from you. Like your CDs
that you really loved. Parliament. Cigarettes. She stole it
and now I have to buy it again. But I still have
the liner notes and the case, but there is no CD
in there and it is like a tragedy that Shakespeare
could have written in his comparative literature class
when he was supposed to be studying how lectures
are given. He would call on the Queen
if he were the lecturer. How she had a private education.
Queens are like celebrity children. They do not have to study
because most of their brains are dedicated to the workings
of being rich. It is taxing. There are mores.
I think about Shakespeare's favorite subject:
It would have been American studies.
He could write a tragedy about the president's son
who was suicidal. He could plagiarize himself
which is often done. There may not be
more than allegories. A story may only have
so many villains. Otherwise, it is pornographic.



I dream about having a typewriter that can only
do so many things. How my computer is my slave.
I think about, if I had a real slave and I worked it like
I work a real computer, I would not be able to handle
more slaves in white gloves. I would have
to work to come up with things for the other slaves to do
because my first slave handles most of my business.
Of course, I could amass a fortune by having
many slaves. I would still have to decide what to use them for,
and that comes probably after I have them. Like someone gave them
to me. Like my slaves were presents from my father-in-law
and I had to make things up like comb my hair out
or fasten my shoe. How strange that would be
not to dress myself. I can see how fashion got to
the corset because a woman needed to have something
for her maids to do. Many people would like to have a slave
or a maid. To clean up. Just to clean up, but you see
how that can snowball. Like it is hot in Virginia
and you buy someone to fan you. Abolitionists
came up with the ceiling fan and the shoe horn.



There is a way to have a personal pantheon.
You can collect a codex of all of the phone numbers
you have gotten since college. Those people
with Audis who park on lawns in downtrodden
neighborhoods. They can be a scourge.
They can know where all the dealers live
and have phone numbers plugged into a mobile phone.
They can return from years abroad
and the phone numbers are still good like they are
on a soap opera. Little changes. Since college,
you have put time aside to e-mail your friends about reunion.
The way they call everything college like there is a servant class,
but there are universities in every state like Europe.
How I am not talking about Australia. The dealers' lawns
can have a pit bull scrounging in the mud.
Chained to a fence because cruelty is acceptable
in the city. You can pass by there and wonder
if that was your friend you saw on the porch.
This can be the way you are a detective.
You can watch old episodes of Law & Order,
to feel like you are solving crimes from your bedroom.
The television is the last place you look for
companionship, but it is always there for you.

Yvette Johnson is a native Los Angelena.