Two Poems by Kasey Johnson


Dead Rabbit Morning
In the darkness of our bedroom,
blinds drawn against the sun,
you enter to announce
the rabbit found drowned
in the pond not far from this
room where we sleep.
I stir to acknowledge
this small disaster, think of the
goldfish circling the pond
which I feed with the neighbor
children. When I open the small
container of fish food I say take
and they do, each child gripping
a pinch of flakes, releasing them
over the murky water, peering in
as the fish nudge the surface,
mouths opening in wide Os.
In the darkness of our room
where I am unmoving in bed,
you say you removed the soaked,
departed rabbit, grabbed it from
within the pond, flung it across the fence,
far from the children, the dog, the fish,
all who might see, who might awake to.
In my mind the rabbit was always a goner
before the fateful plunge—the dumb luck
that follows the dumb—but the fish
I take pity on, imagine the bloated shape
at first thrashing in the pooling water
until growing still and sinking, a soft stone
they had no choice but to swim around,
eyes eternally open, water-locked
in their small, aquatic home.
Through this new iteration an old fear:
that one of us will drown, that one will
watch, and have to throw the other out.


An Accident
Some poems are memories,
some memories are moments,
only seconds like those before
the motorcycle accident
on the malecón by the edge
of town where I was walking,
my hair brushing my skin
like a skirt carried in the wind
when the motorcycle
sped around the corner.
I was sure it was I
who had distracted
the driver so that he struck
a low concrete wall
and tumbled, his head
hitting a lamp post. He lay
unnaturally posed, head bent
at a right angle, a shoe
flung nearby, while passersby
stopped: first a man and then
a woman, who began to scream.
I stayed near a tree, sat stunned
on the low wall of concrete
dividing the road from the sand,
watching the blood on the driver’s
forehead, thinking it was my fault
for being in this little country
that I barely knew
and how we only know
each other in caricatures, anyway:
cat-calls, men and women,
karaoke and cowboys,
the movies, motorcycle
chases and car crashes.
The ambulance arrived
like a cartoon impersonation
of itself: small and self-important
and when they moved him,
he barely spoke, or what
he said was inaudible, carried
away, the air cleared
and though I felt the bright
spotlight of my guilt,
no one even looked at me.


Kasey Johnson received a BA in English from Reed College and an MA in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. She works for a healthcare non-profit in Seattle, Washington and is an editorial assistant and book review editor for CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women. Her work has been published by Silver Birch Press and Verdad and is forthcoming in decomP magazinE and Prick of the Spindle.