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Sport 16: Autumn 1996

Andrew Johnston — Four American Poems

page 68

Andrew Johnston

Four American Poems


After weeks of sun and wind and no rain,
everything loses its shape in the grass—

birds, shadows of birds, lovers, footballs.
As you watch, two deer run right up to the road

and freeze, gazing at traffic, almost disappearing.
Clouds roll up, the credits of a film you’ve just

slept through, so nothing makes sense
except these deer—so thin, so silent.

They turn and flee, like thought, back to the trees.
And then, as in the stories, it softly begins to rain.

page 69


for Marc Nieson

I was a stranger. But you look
familiar, people would say.

Big cars, big country. You need
binoculars, here, said a man, I can sell you some.

I took them back to my room
and watched hawks over the river,

sun reddening their tail feathers,
then I looked at everything in my room

through them, the wrong way round—
tiny photographs, books, tiny lamp—

which made me feel instantly philosophical,
distant, a little taller. Infinitely stranger.

page 70


A dragonfly graphs evaporation
over the motionless, sunstruck river

and ripples of a fish having risen
that we did not see itself.

Steeples, weathervanes, lightning rods, antennae
strain after the invisible;

a cyclist stops on the bridge, to
stare, as if to say: ‘I believe

even though I can see’; the river
shrugging its shoulders, moving on.


You dream in one country,
wake up in another.
Until you come to occupy
a kind of cloud, above the sea—
just you and your bicycle.
But its back tyre’s a little flat.
Pump it up at the gas station,
someone suggests, but you give it
too much air: BANG, it splits
and something happens to your dreams, too—
one of them in a bike repair shop
and when you come out it’s raining.