Amaud Jamaul Johnson
Somebody Told Me We Got LA

“of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling…”

            —Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877


“what’s happening, blood?”

—Parliament Funkadelic, 1975



(I’m not) I don’t want my whole

life grieving, no gleaming, nothing

fallen, (I’m not) that city. But what’s

Atlantis without the water, Pompeii

(I’m not) save those bodies, startled,

huddling. I’m not ruined. (But) Isn’t

this what’s inherent (I can’t), the living

and not knowing. (I’m not) Then

some nights I’m frozen. I couldn’t figure

out how to bring anyone (I won’t)

with me, (I) and I can’t convince

the people around me to return. (But)

Return to what, to whom? Any MLK,

(I’m not) there’s your share of disaster.

One west coast stretching out another.

This tree I started, it’s just a few

states, or branches, into the Atlantic,

which is another form of blackness. 



Found In Volume 47, No. 02
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Amaud Jamaul Johnson
About the Author

Amaud Jamaul Johnson is the author of two books of poetry, Darktown Follies and Red Summer. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, his honors include a Pushcart Prize, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and The Dorset Prize, as well as support from The MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Cave Canem. He teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.