Roman Johnson

A boy, I rode lush winds, craved the slow
lull of a copper kite, plunge of my body

from grandmother’s balcony. I floated
through a corrupted world to meet water

like Icarus or my first piano student, bloated
and Black, choking on that muddy Mississippi.

When my voice fell, instead of balling, I tilled
cool earth, found rest on black grass where

dandelion seeds stood long enough to laugh
breeze across my face, a rivulet of sunbeams

swimming across my room, garden of small eons,
spent like a hulled mollusk in a basket of juices

where echinacea pots sun lounge near my bed,
where I call my friend who was lover somewhere,

tender. In a mess of garlands, I wonder why
God swallows children and leaves for us to bear.

I watch my father’s disappointed mouth say
boys should not want boys made of river

because boys grow to be and men,
men are mirrors and full of scars.

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