All copyright © 2003 remains with the authors.
All copyright © 2004 remains with the authors.



Snapshots
Halvard Johnson






Drought

In this one we see the farmer you saw on TV talking
through dry, parched, cracked lips about the unfairness of
it all, of how the upstream counties and states *always* have
first dibs on the river's water whenever the river has water.

Behind him and the interviewer is a plate-glass window beyond
which we see a city street corner, traffic whizzing past, pedestrians
pausing to preen and reach for their cell phones when they see their
images on the monitors above the window on national TV, and

he looks oddly out of place, sitting there in his boots and denims,
jabbing one finger at his ear whenever the earpiece feels like it's
about to slip loose. He shares his fears that the government's
about to reduce the price supports that keep him "afloat."

He grins and makes little airborne quotation marks with two fingers
of each hand. Outside, on the sidewalk, pedestrians lean this way
and that, trying to let themselves be seen beyond his denim jacket's
shoulders. When his moment is over, he thanks his interviewer

and expresses the hope that we'll all understand his problems
and needs, and that we'll all do our best to save the family farm.

Halvard Johnson
USA, 9.47am, 7/09/03

***


Wed

nesday
news

paper at
the door

to bring
it in I

must first
bend o

ver pick
it up

Halvard Johnson, NYC, USA 8:36 a.m.

***


Last Night

Mars--bloody Mars--rampant

over

Lower Manhattan--not as dark as
some times

--Halvard Johnson, NYC, 8.27.03, 11:22 am, EDT

***


Snapshot 9/10/03

Today's is just of me,
unshaven, not yet
fully dressed, fingers
on the keys, traffic already
whirring past, having
just begun my sixty-seventh
spin around our star, our
sun, and of my wife, who with
me starts today the first day of
our fifteenth married year.

Halvard Johnson, NYC, 6:44 am, 9/10/2003

***


Snap

dragon shot
resisting a
rest, more at
eleven

Halvard Johnson, NYC, Sept. 24, 2003

***


Marriage

This is the poem that answers
the question "What happens when an adult male
who has been unmarried since childhood
suddenly has his wife restored?"
She just walks in the door one day
and says, "Honey, guess what, I'm home!"
He, looking up quizzically yet with good humor
over the top of his newspaper, says,
"Well, I never . . . ," but
she interrupts with a smile, saying,
"You'll never guess where I've been!"
He allows that that is true but holds
his tongue. She, extracting a hairpin, takes
her time explaining. And then, when she's
done, things go on pretty much as one
might expect. She finds everything
out of order and begins to rearrange, and he
wonders who it is she so reminds him of.

Halvard Johnson

***


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{ Halvard Johnson, NYC, 10/8/03 4:02 pm, EDT 


***


Psy-ops Sonnet

There is much pain there. Across the vastnesses
between us, small birds carry messages. The sky,
wanting, above all, to be blue, arches its back,
as everlasting fire pours through space.

Men dying in burning houses wait for their
women to return, to feed them, bear their children,
mend their clothes. But even on the best of days,
in relatively stable orbits, men tremble before

women only average in appearance. A little too
much beauty is so hard to bear when souls are torn
to shreds, an infinity of detergents stretching them
to some breaking point, memory prospecting and

mining, leaving deep flooded shafts among heaped
dishes, appliances, lying in ambush in kitchens.

Hal Halvard Johnson

***


Sonnet: A Guy Was Talking

A guy was talking to his cellphone about a girl
who once had made a call to him about a guy
who, listening to his cellphone on his way to
work, had heard a story about a girl who'd
heard that I had heard a story on the way to
work about a guy who was wishing they had
all been more forthcoming about the whole
affair, feeling that even in public there were
things that they wanted to keep private and that
had they been any less forthcoming there might
have been nothing to say after all, after all was
said and done. Hello? You're breaking up on
me, you're breaking . . . Hello? Can you hear me?
Can you hear me NOW? Hello? Shit! Hello?

New York City, 12.17.03 7:46 pm EST Hal

***


NEW YEAR

Cardinals fly up
from the edge of the near
field, another
year's luck.

The haiku poet gives
us a morning gift:
Starry night:
she squeezes in between
her husband and her ex
A road, a fence, a field.

A table on which a book
lies open: History
of the Great American
Fortunes by Gustavus Myers.

A glimpse out the window
of gray and white
cat. I open the door
and in it comes.

This is the first day,
unlike any other.

for Lynda

Hal

***


Quiet City

Three-thirty in the morning, the city quiet as it gets--
only the plaintive tones of an English horn
rising above strings, faint buzz of wheels on pavement
of the West Side Highway, car alarm some blocks
away, neighbors clumping in and down to feed their cats,
hum of electri-city, E above high C, I've heard.

New York City, 12/31/03
Hal

***


Snapshot: At the Guggenheim

Elevator A

In case of fire
use stairs
unless otherwise
instructed

NYC, 1/7/04 6:40 a.m., EST
Hal snapshot
the day after
epiphany

***


Snapshot--late, postage-due

If you're lucky, they won't charge you
the overdue postage on this. But I couldn't
afford to send it first-class.

And you'll see, I'm sure, that, because I
slipped and fell in the snow while trying
to snap you, I managed to get

only one knee in.

Hal-- NYC, 1/14+1, 12:22 AM EST
Halvard Johnson

***


Snapshot: Nagoya Playboys

Dissatisfied with their search results, they drop their language
tools and move on to search tips. Exclusive archives
of hot nude centerfolds, women the world has never seen.

See your message here, among similar self-published pages,
music for purchase, Jim Morrison discographies, and much, much more,
Nagoya Marimbas also heard in the offing. Japan

and Australia, together again as never before. Alsatian
Cousins opening tonight at Megacity Surplus Bar. More results,
only a click away. You're always welcome, but, please,

no married men. Rediscover convention, characters that cannot be
decently displayed in any language whatsoever. Even I
do not know my own secrets. Some young ladies want to settle

down with dull, older men who collect Damien Hirsts, David
Hockneys. Look, jovencitas, all ya gotta do is read them their Kipling
until they drift off to sleep. Piece of cake, lemme tell ya.

Halvard Johnson, NYC, 12/21/04 10:39 a.m. EST

***


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***


Clear Becoming Cloudy

clear
cloar
cloard
clourd
cloudd
cloudy

Halvard Johnson, NYC, 4/5/04 8:39 am EDT

***



Poetryetc is a listserv relating to poetry and poetics which provides a forum for poets to debate their critical and creative work. The list has over the years run a number of projects for its members, of which Snapshots has been the most enduring.

Every Wednesday, Poetryetc members were invited to post short poems on any subject or in any form they chose. The idea was to make a poetic collage of instamatic “snaps” of that day that reflected the international membership of the list. The project has generated an astounding number of poems.

The first two runs, of six weeks each, and the first ten weeks of the third run, are archived at Wild Honey Press www.wildhoneypress.com under Poetryetc Project. The rest - amounting in all to a run of a year - are archived here.

Poetryetc, like its affiliate Salt Publishing (http://www.saltpublishing.com), was founded by Australian poet John Kinsella. Salt is managed by Christopher Hamilton-Emery (cemery@saltpublishing.com), while Poetryetc is owned by Alison Croggon (ajcroggon@bigpond.com). Poetryetc is now archived at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/poetryetc.html. and anyone interested can join from that url.

To contact the listowner: Alison Croggon


These pages are designed, maintained, and hosted by Rebecca Seiferle, the Editor of The Drunken Boat. To email.


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