by Steve Johnson


by Darcy Luetzow Staddon

This is the broken place

she asks for pieces of gum she asks for my
coffee she is 4 and      these are not things she can

she asks me to pull her pants on but
the   things   she  can   do   we   want  her to  do
herself                   she asks to carry her baby sister with
the neck still jelly  no
no  she  asks  no     she no
she asks me to hold her    the baby is already
on me but I  say  yes     and I walk this way     I make
dinner     I read bedtime stories in
Japanese  I relax
the clenched origami      and saddle

he returns from his trip       his panic refolds stood up
on edge as the
baby’s spit-up hits tatami   he is   double folded
triple to retract his fray from us

my exhaustion harnesses into rote tidiness
he wants to be
both daughters on his rocking chair knees but who
can gather up like that now

they have just cut the heavy stalks of rice     just   cut
them and then they burned the fields in their secret
it’s warm but we close the windows             the   fire
traces from outside aren’t meant to mix with the milk
fire with the gritting fatherhood with our family of
four inside            this  is  the  broken  place  the
first step up into our house


special in normal times

these days are prone
to groanings.  pink swaths
of royal identity help.
hadn’t we better untie our
sneakers from the golden
throne’s claw feet.

look.  morning happened.   she
told me of the simple fairy
taling of my life.


grabbing and naming

There was rain

It oceaned our stream

Did you notice the curls at the sides of my face

To stand by the water is not the clever trick

Wasn’t there more in the bag, hadn’t we planned better than this

Caging the water is

To move back to inside, to practice the spoon handle stacks

There had been a table set, did you catch that

He was setting a table with his voice

But the fruit flies and their noiseless hustle

But the kitchen floor cracking fault lines between me and the sink

Because it’s my fault the baby woke

Because I set the sink water to the volume of the sea

And practiced catching our well’s water

I’ve become good at it, grabbing and naming the creatures of water

They shake their manes and furl, they glove my hands

It’s the baby who taught me to watch for them at the washing of her hands


Art by Steve Johnson, on Instagram @artbystevej.