August Approaches Always with its Violence

I look at pictures of the wildfires in California
[and think they’re the most beautiful thing I’ve seen
in a while] press my lips together having read the deadly
caption [this is the way of things; I am not surprised.]
my coffee always cools too quickly, a crisp, lapping pool
rivers down my throat. on the other side of the cafe
dishes clatter [making me jump, an embarrassing,
dramatic jolt] the song pulsing into my ears repeats
I’m moving forward, keep moving forward, keep
moving forward
. on the front door, a flyer burns bright
on the window pane, the descendant sun lighting it a hot
yellow — the face of the vanished girl big and auroral,
the stretched black letters MISSING above. [this is the
way of things; I am not surprised] I manage to take
the sunset tonight personally, feel a little relieved when
I reach the end of my coffee. we are in the kind of time
where we are desperate to avoid tomorrow [though,
surely, the simple fact of it’s coming is the only thing
that can save us] I put a clenched hand to my cheek, let
my fingertips graze the collar bone just below, think
about how long it’s been since I have been touched
[by any love] and wait for the looming dark to canopy
my body as if in casket, fix my gaze out the wall-length
glass, watch this little city keep moving forward
and mouth I’m sorry to no one and for no reason
in particular.

Marissa Johnson.jpg

Marissa Layne Johnson is a poet, educator, and activist living in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in Bustle Magazine, One Billion Rising, The Voices Project, Impossible Archetype, HYSTERIA Magazine, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, OFI Press, The Broke Bohemian (where she was selected as Editor’s Choice for the edition), HASHTAG QUEER VOL. 2, and is forthcoming in EVERYDAY QUEER HEROES: AN LGBTQ+ TRUE STORIES ANTHOLOGY and ImageOutWrite literary journal. Marissa has been nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. You can follow her work on Instagram at @marissalaynepoetry.