back toJacket2

Jacket 18 — August 2002   |   # 18  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |

Fred Johnston

Two poems

     The One

He’s taken for a novelty now,
But he wasn’t always —
Back in the bad days
He ran the place. His word
Was our law. And no harm, either:
The soft welter of him now, you’d
Think he’d never
Been a clever
Man, but he was. He can’t sing
Now, but he could, back then.
Only the young can mock like that,
Urging him on
And his voice gone
He’s a fool to himself, feeling
The young girls’ slim backs
And thinking what was naughty
Forty years ago is naughty now —
I am his son,
I am the one
Who waits while he pisses himself:
I am the one who carries this old Christ
Up the hill to his bed of skulls —
I am the one who rolls the stone over his grave.

      To a Country Journalist

(for Una)

There can only be so many small importances,
Or street gods giving bounty from neon thrones —
There is an end to soft politenesses on ’phones.

A time comes when the nib defies the distances
From margin to margin and goes mad on truth
Like a child re-finding language and its worth.

The careful windows stare down at instances
Of ordinary news, the small things making sin —
Go where things and sin are greater, and begin.

Fred Johnston was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1951. He has published two novels, a collection of poems, eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Being Anywhere — New & Selected Poems. In 1986 he founded Galway’s annual literature festival.

Jacket 18 — August 2002  Contents page
Select other issues of the magazine from the | Jacket catalog | read about Jacket |
Other links: | top | homepage | bookstores | literary links | internet design |
Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that this material is copyright. It is made available here without charge for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose

This material is copyright © Fred Johnston and Jacket magazine 2002
The URL address of this page is