Joel F. Johnson
I'm a businessman and chronic English major who began writing poetry about ten years ago. Sometimes, I find myself switching back and forth between a spreadsheet and an unfinished poem. My first book of poems, Where Inches Seem Miles, was published by Antrim House at the end of 2013. In 2014, Kirkus Reviews selected it as one of the best books of the year in the Indie category. I've benefited from workshops at the Concord Poetry Center and from the journals which have published my work, including Rattle, Blackbird, and Salamander. My website, joelfjohnson.com, includes a few videos where I've attempted to combine a reading with appropriate images.
All the Rage this Christmas
Even Amazon sells out of robotic kestrels.
Best Buy builds an aerie in its Manhattan store
that twitters, rustles, shrieks and blinks
with precision-flow falcons and owls with L.E.D. eyes.
Neiman Marcus offers a golden eagle for $2,500 that soars
on lithium ion batteries and Kevlar composite wings.
His mother (so typical) buys him a sparrow. $19.99 at Ace Hardware.
He can’t help himself. He names it Cheep.
Cheep flies on a little nine-volt battery and comes with software
that limits her flight to up, down and forward.
She’s supposed to hop but topples over
on any surface that isn’t absolutely flat.
He replaces the memory card in Cheep’s breast,
re-codes her to accelerate, dart, bank and drift.
He downloads a video of feeding swallows
and uses a 3-dimensional graphing program to invest
his English sparrow with a swallow’s ripping grace.
No Chinese factory kestrel ever chased a bird like this.
He takes the microphone from an old cell phone
and mounts it behind Cheep’s head, so she responds to his calls.
While others struggle with an iPad interface,
their hawks and falcons veering wildly toward the trees,
he simply says, Come, Cheep, and she banks and dives,
circles his head, lights on his shoulder.
He oils Cheep’s wings with a bead of WD-40.
Cleans her feathers with a toothbrush dipped in isopropyl alcohol.
They will never catch you, Cheep, he says at night,
her lidless eyes fixed on his. You are my beautiful Cheep.
He will take her to the park and guide her branch to branch
among the mechanical squirrels. There will be raptors whirring overhead,
their carbon fiber talons tucked beneath metallic tails,
magnificent to watch, but grossly programmed.
His little Cheep is smart and quick. His Cheep cannot be caught.
©2016 Joel Johnson
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