Thursday Jul 19

Johnston Poetry Allan Johnston, originally from Southern California, earned his M.A. in Creative Writing and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Davis. His poems have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, and Rhino.  He is the author of one full-length poetry collection (Tasks of Survival, 1996) and three chapbooks (Northport, 2010; Departures, 2013; Contingencies, forthcoming). He has received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination (2009), and First Prize in Poetry in the Outrider Press Literary Anthology competition (2010).  Originally from California, he now teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago.  He serves as a reader for Word River and for the Illinois Emerging Poets competition, and is an editor for the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education and the SPSE Roundtable. His scholarly articles have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, College Literature, and several other journals. 

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In Flight



Two birds have just now risen and are flying over the house.
They bear a quick indifference to a sky dulled by sunset,
loosened with darkness, yet serene --

Cerise and orange along ferns of stratus in dying light, leaning and seeding —

Two birds, one and the other, go up —
foam and bubble in air, a lightness
we might also feel were we too
dancing in the sky --

One and the other scavenging darkness along the horizon in silent wing beats
Against the breeze, and in whispered blossoming sundown and darkness of form they begin
to quilt the sky with a feathered suddenness that rains from their rush over the house,
across the barely appearing stars, holes growing in the blanket of sky,
as if they were bringing friends home;

As if these stars,
savage pecks of light,
waved, formed, saved
the shapes of time
in brief arcs.
Birds slip off rocks;
water and seaweed
skim in the white sleep
of foam;

this is my seeing of another time, a life near oceans,
a childhood suddenly opening again as all breaks in a chance flight, colors fade from clouds;

These birds mounting the sky speak to me out of a swiftness that mimics wings with laughing;
each comes from each being, each, being each in flight.