Issue 5: Mark Francis Johnson

Four poems from Constant Hare


Corrupted by monsoon years of urine,

reflected in a bear,

for a laugh I scattered apple-cores outside his dome.

The apple cores radiate cruelty

as do all souvenirs of joy.

Eels returning at dawn to the river

fell into ruts I woke early to dig.

Sir, might I be placed with another Creation?

Unshipped apples, briefly actors

pounding on the door to your place...

October ate prizewinning figs whilst

parenthesizing darkness

as if these people, pure as a clothespin,

cried themselves to sleep by way of

documentation         and as if they then

soon to be the dust of subjects

asleep compared lights               and then

the dust of subjects                 slept.


The loss of my

life and proof of it

hit me hard              late

but I’ve also had some luck       lime

deposits are up all over the basin,

privately people live, the wet pines

control the local atmosphere for man

winning over visitors like me.


oh! – Who plucked from a filthy socket

my mandrake, soaping the shriek

to a sussurus and playing surgeon

on tendrilled warts and hard buboes? Thanks-

the presentation, too, is delightful-

laid out on a white cloth, ringed with fishes-

benefactor, my thanks – at last a helpmeet

even if tiny and just for tonight.

Love in this pine-fug

not be a question.


     Cheeky at Michaelmas

lava came harvesting practical ones,

illuminating hodge-podge, helling it

and I understand also

crisping old string

– miles of it, saved even in water-closets

airily going for Spring. And

the behavior of the door indicates why.

The behavior of the door indicates why

in this very quiet enthusiastic ones

deny seal and petrel detergent,

practice maintenance, perfume

– while boiling water speaks –

extinction, ‘a place out of the wind’.

Seawater boiling cries

Lava has seized a shipping lane! Be

practical and enthusiastic and think:

off the cold coast in darkness young lobsters

dying of herpes hold the door open,

performing an office in a smell.

Why else would they?


– as a body leapt a brilliant wood

of glossy sticks and ballsy wren’s eyes,

the good road through it really a floor...

Shining in the distance, not far, we saw –

and so disbanded –

and having been here now two decades

and a year

still, still in the confusing streets

the fantastic, subdued alarm

of this queer city I sometimes see

a familiar face atop

a body like mine,

and wonder – what?

It was so long ago now

I patted my pockets for a light.

Mark Francis Johnson has work forthcoming in Holly White, EOAGH and Otoliths. He runs an artspace in Philadelphia called Hiding Place.