Michael Johnson Click to

Mike JohnsonMichael Johnson works in a vineyard in Okanagan Falls, Ontario.  His work has appeared in Queen’s Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Mid-American Review and The Pedestal Magazine.  His poems have also appeared in the Best American and Best Canadian poetry series.


— Côte d’Ivoire

Dervishes and snake husks blown
against the broken quills of grass
along the ditches like lost prayers,
and the gendarmes, come so quietly
into the holy place of your home.
There might be ink on your thumb.
They might even drop your body
back in front of your home to warn.
Or the limbo of makeshift morgues
and months for proper papers,
and though your family know your
face like a braille poetry of hurt,
they cannot take your body home,
they cannot anoint you for the dust.
Your simple white shoes — where
the blood was caked, your wife
could only pay the rag of her grief
across your shoes until they shone.



One Response to Democracy

  1. scottr15 says:

    A truly powerful piece. The first two lines really make this piece, I think; while the main body of the poem, dealing with the grief of a murder victim’s family, was moving, the ambiguous references to democracy and the Ivory Coast in the poem’s opening couplet tied the pain of these individuals into a broader context, and changed the poem from a picture of fictional grief to a statement on real-world affairs.

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