Allan Johnston


Night catches me adrift in this bouquet

of buildings, holding on to moonlit streets

and memories spilled from the dirty sheets

of childhood.  Throw mellifluence away.

I caught myself in faces, held the eyes

of citizens, found ragged hospitals

in hair.  No doctor heard the nurse’s calls

between the scalpel and the scrap-heap flies.

Hold on to holding self.  Hold on to this:

old buildings shored up like a scuttled fleet;

formaldehyde of street parlance; the kiss

of all ambition kicked beneath my feet.

O abattoir of cities!  Send me flowers.

These sad soliloquies eat up the hours.


[This poem was first published in Riverrun]


Allan Johnston lives in Chicago and teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and Depaul University.  He has one book of poems out, Tasks of Survival (Mellen, 1995) and a chapbook forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.  His works have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rhino, Weber Studies, and previously in Tipton Poetry Journal.  Among other awards he received a finalist fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council and a Pushcart Prize nomination.