by Steve Johnson


by Sven Kretzschmar

The poet in want to escape the lockdown

Steam begins to cloud the tiles, then evaporates
out of a bottom hung window in the poem as I push

aside the shower screen of this walk-in bathroom
in a loft-like hotel suite I have invented

to walk out into a bedroom with spread-out clothes
and dress my naked torso in fleeting sheets of air.



(after Guy Helminger, and with a line from Órla Fay)

were not all real and none
ever waited in my bed when I came
home. Little Miss Sunshine philosophised
when I was barefoot pulling splinters
of memory out of my sole. She contended
I was a poor argument leading
to no conclusion. Actress was only imagined

visiting on a now and again basis,
as if light was busy tending to other tasks.
Despite beautiful smiles during hormone-driven
encounters in university hallways, Teacher
probably didn’t take me
seriously, the story of us
was an unknown scene. Queen

of Cupcakes split up before the first date,
before I had even returned from a stay abroad –
her reflection lost in a rain-watered window
pane separating airfield and passenger terminal.
When Bookworm lured me with kisses,
I fled bitter moments, their fragments scattered
between pages, fled into her fine cobweb

hair, auburn-coloured like the small Japanese
tea table between us each breakfast. For a while
Lady was the one for interaction and for
talks interested in this and that. Lawyer
I usually met on her sofa
where we busied ourselves
contemplating the state of the world…

I would have, but magic builds
its abditory in doubts. We keep close
anyway, the way the Irish and Anglo-
Irish do. Digital, one-dimensional, one-
way street of a different town where young
Paramedic never steered her ambulance through,
subsequently unaware of my tormented

state; no abatement applied, and I still
hope-fool for a real encounter.
With Scholar I was only friends with benefits
of an intellectual kind, no intentions
for something beyond, despite curious students
and retirees wondering what it was,
this thing with us. Miss Amelie came

around with tea and cake and living
rooms to read and talk politics in, society, small
presents. All twaddle. Counter and cash
register got in our way of boding with gift
ribbon and real estate deals; outside
was for cannikins. Puppy Love stayed
with me for years till we finally met. And parted.

In the interim, we drank the old town dry
(drinking with women and because of them
was always a gift), philosophised, dreamt
of being by the sea, melancholic and freshened up,
blue lips from whipping water while restoring
a green boat with a sand-coloured sail –
lips remained unkissed and the boat never watered

but I still hold her close
to my heart, waiting, she might come
back to return a shirt –
the one piece of me she still possesses.
Maybe someday I’ll forget it
and her,
but not yet.


Art by Steve Johnson, on Instagram @artbystevej