By Nicole J. Johns
Image by Caroline Nevin

Queen of the Grotto by Caroline Nevin

Queen of the Grotto by Caroline Nevin

The Trouble with Bridges

to have lived in this town
is to never trust a bridge again.

we have seen
when bridges fail, like people.

we feel the give and shake
as we sit idling in traffic.

bumper to bumper
so close together, we are.
gusset plate crumbling
like a thin, rusty communion wafer.

tumbling, braking, crashing,
Bridges don’t collapse in America.
this must be some third world country,
or a terrorist attack.

we know better,
the sonic boom alerted and altered.

we sit disconnected, staring
at taillights and that murky water.

wondering, knowing, our river
is full of secrets.

and we are merely suspended–


find the dark space—
crawl inside


we go down,
together. into

liminal space
language, no one

has ever written—
or spoken.

language is born.
language is reborn.

straddle the gap,
quiver along the line


Rush Hour

what does it mean
to tell you this?

to sit static
on the interstate

and think of the place
i used to call home

a time and a space
rolling in memory

the person i was
three lives ago


all of us
have multiple lives

we are all reborn
of former selves

our old lives
creep in on us

during rush hour
while waiting in line

would you have loved
the person i once was?


Poetry Village

I want to join a poetry village,
where metaphors
Run wild through a dim forest,

A plethora of frenzied poesy,
poems composed by poets,
Strung out on coffee, cigarettes,
gin and tonic, and love.

Verbs race through the air,
knocking into the walls of huts,
Nouns primly sip tea with a poet.

A genre goddess knocks at the door,
bringing with her a custom made muse,
A replica of the woman I fell in love with
over lunches, late nights and dancing.

Erogenous alphabets float
through the atmosphere,
a cacophony of rolling consonants blending.
Redundant entanglements are forbidden.

Nicole J. JohnsNicole J. Johns is originally from rural western Pennsylvania, but now lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where she teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and her BA in English/Creative Writing from Penn State-Erie, The Behrend College. Her first book, Purge: Rehab Diaries (Seal Press, 2009) was nominated for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in memoir, and has been described by Library Journal as an “unflinching work rooted in feminist self-reflection.” Nicole has also published poems in numerous literary magazines, including The Evening Street Review, Ellipsis, and Lake Effect.

Check out her Website and her Facebook page or say “hi” on Twitter (@nicolejjohns). You can writer her at

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Categories: Writing


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