Halvard Johnson

The Art of Deference

I step off the sidewalk as you approach,
averting my eyes from your superior mien,

holding my breath as you pass, so as
not to disturb you. Thinking not to place

myself above my old station. I prostrate myself
in the gutter, allowing your honorable

feet to tread safely and dryly upon my back, above
the dim water. Wishing you nothing

but the best, I resolve to do more to trim
my wants and needs. Perhaps a smaller house?

Perhaps fewer children? What can a person like me
possibly want with a wife, with a life, with a knife?

14 Interventions

  1. He turns the sky
    into an enormous

  2. With obvious ease,

  3. Mythology
    and biology
    of the double helix

  4. Files,
    hiding them
    from foreboding

  5. Heart rotted out
    the old leaves turn to
    reservoirs of life

  6. Within a field of
    a horse

  7. Poem grenades exploding
    on the fields
    of Normandy

  8. Keys already made
    sound spirited

  9. It is but a pair
    of scissors,
    my morning newspaper

  10. Picasso’s thoughts
    their languor

  11. If the law is a good one
    we’ll gladly
    obey it

  12. Please take this down—
    My love grows
    like hair.

  13. Angels of hot water
    in hot water
    by hot water

  14. Reality—
    not what we thought
    after all
Halvard Johnson was born in Newburgh, New York, and grew up in New York City and the Hudson Valley. He has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Baltimore City Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He has lived and taught in Chicago, Illinois; El Paso, Texas; Cayey, Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; and New York City. For many years he taught overseas in the European and Far East divisions of the University of Maryland, mostly in Germany and Japan. He lives with his wife, the prize-winning writer and visual artist Lynda Schor, in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.