Three Poems

by Vanessa Couto Johnson


Brazilians call a Sunday driver a barber. Barbers once bloodlet, so perhaps this is a comment on car injuries. Toss me your red shirt. Still where it lands. Or I wear. See me inside. How many accidents have you been in. Do you always know if something is an accident. I think it is masculine because it is male pattern. Virility sea. Virility do. Maybe my slang is antiquated, ancestral, tree-dwelling. But I neither climb nor swing. Beard watching birds. A nest and nests. Net washed, ventured, gained. You prefer poultry, and I tell you I used to be like you. Now ready for steak stampede. You are aware when you reverse. Try one direction and another. We migrate as a metal-cased unit, the sky another transfer possibility.


You dream you crash a party that aliens crash. Now tell me a NSFW story of Loki. When we permute on the bed, earrings almost impale eyelids. This is a twilight zone world in which the people outside proselytize verbs. We go there. Would you like something to drink. Do you need more time. The tough questions are for nakedness at dusk. You once had sleep paralysis. You say my snag feels like I touch body to be sure it harbors here. Fajitas please and I leave the beans in the shape of a slice of pie on the plate. Liverpool. Tell me about it. That architecture. Artery texture. You and brother in one photo. On a sign we see Doctor G and the Mudcats. That’s the spot. You give me such medical attention. You desire a dirty comeback but don’t grind your teeth. The wisdom ones are in sideways like periscopes against your cheek. For years you didn’t know how to whistle. Like a gene suddenly expressed, you made the sound of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a trinity out your lips.

Your blood, a low pressure formation beside me, triggers my wake.


Fire ants appear in some bathrooms some of the time. Your lizard naps in her false cave.

I plan to exit a stasis because I haven’t even been traveling through space. Chamber has its music and I have heard.

If I write of puppets the reader might think I mean metaphorical ones but I mean literal ones. That need puppeteers standing in view and sets on wheels. Can watch the human if you want.

You might not understand why there is a bear on the billboard. But that is its school of business.

If there is a door, you are on one side of it. If there is a roof, I might not always be under.

There are not always answers to the odd problems in the back of the book. Some problems are not problems but a possibility or a history. Parameter.

If you take your moment and share it with me, it can widen into. Digits growing. We can do more than count. On theory or in. No need to order, but a desire to, with take out.

Vanessa Couto Johnson

Vanessa Couto Johnson’s chapbook Life of Francis was the winner of Gambling the Aisle's 2014 Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Qwerty, The Destroyer, BORT Quarterly, and elsewhere. She currently teaches at Texas State University, where she earned her MFA.