Punishing the Johnson Girls


Father’s leather belt. The thin whip. The sound of cutting air and then
contact. Anger hidden inside mouths.

Once the oldest had to choose her own tree switch.
She carefully chose willow tree’s thin branch.

Surely such a droop would be ineffective.
A lesson in physics.

Mom’s wooden spoon, laughed at and taunted.
The middle and youngest told to run around the house ten times in January.

We ran barefoot to prove a point.
Grounded: our current coursing under ground.

Our wings molting in our pouting bedrooms.





The Johnson girls ride their white monte carlo

through the winding streams of a patronizing afternoon, the car
an escape hatch with full moon speed. The car bounces over
the possibility of squirrels and our burning arguments
over who’s in charge. The blue sky always disagrees.
The upstairs apartments near the railroad tracks filled with boys
grappling their glass bongs. The thick waiting. The ocean
just outside the rolled down window. Our hair
streaming and the taste of fog on our skin. We stumble
out and goatclimb the rocks, tumbling the periwinkles.
The white skin on the bottom of our feet slice open.
The ocean slips itself inside of us and burns.



Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming or in Amethyst Arsenic, The Journal, Spillway, Sou’wester, Redactions, DMQ Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Her Vena Amoris, is available from Red Bird Chapbooks, and her chapbooks, Ophelia Unraveling and The Ornithologist Poems, are available from Dancing Girl Press. She blogs here: http://carolbergpoetry.blogspot.com/


Purchase The Ornithologist Poems at dancing girl press


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