Fall 2011, Volume 11

Poetry by Allan Johnston


Between us
imagine a thing
we say.

It could relate
to balance or
to inclement

It is of little

And yet
there are lists
of simple facts. 

For instance
some walk into sunlight
hands over head
to dig the graves.

They stand by
before the shooting. 
What brings them
to this precipice? 

Pustules of stars
on the coarse blue skin
of night.  Earth beneath
like a sick green tightrope

on the scratch
of matter. 

Heard Singing

The lone bird
keeps returning
to the tree
to sing in the hot night

a different bird
each time
yet the same sense
pervades the calling

the same tree
and limb
the same spirit
moving them

and I know
of what I hear
that this and
every moment

is the only moment

a hot night clings to.




BIO: Allan Johnston earned his M.A. in Creative Writing and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Davis. His poems have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, and Rhino. He is the author of one full-length poetry collection (Tasks of Survival, 1996) and a chapbook (Northport, 2010), and has received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination (2009), and First Prize in Poetry in the Outrider Press Literary Anthology competition (2010). Originally from California, he now teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago. He serves as a reader for Word River and for the Illinois Emerging Poets competition, and is the editor of the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education. His scholarly articles have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, College Literature, and several other journals.