Johnny Nelson


all this talk:

Fast approaching,

Time for planning,


The leaves twist and shift, drifting indifference.

I cannot measure their colors

as breezes toil to recreate

a previous flurry of leaves and debris

as clouds grow gray and dusk strains

for a partner it can never know,

the unfulfilled transition to night.

Out there, reaching toward nothing,

giving children time to stretch

before street-light timers and pink cheeks

send them damp-socked to warm baths,

suds and fresh-dried towels,

then flannel sheets and set alarm clocks.


Let us pass this moment,

freely, keenly, kindly.

Let me escape and drown in this.

Such an amassing of potential nostalgia;

thoughts and fancies.

I weigh myself for what I am worth

and I cannot wait to go.

These normalities take longer

than the things we enjoy

that exist in blinks, in between breaths.

The gas-powered heater to be dusted,

for fear of fire as it warms

bedrooms’ stinging wooden floors.

Say something sweet, make haste.

See, in the morning we’re too distracted

with the sleep in our eyes,

and you’ll tell me not to kiss you

before you brush your teeth.

But what I want is you, make-upless

and severe. Reality.

You want reality

only before you’re about to dream.


Pine scented everything,

with no pines residing nearby,

but sold, en masse, at drug stores.

Young ladies, too young to know the season,

decadent and decked in greens and reds,

deep, earthy tones that nature envies,

ashamed and silent.


You know, I’ve never shared mistletoe

with a single pair of lips.

I should be glad for this novelty.

Pretend to make traditions

so when you meet somebody new

you can incorporate them

as though they, not you, were the novice.

But creation is better

with the warmth of someone else’s hands.


Oncoming rain, cocoa, ale and salted sidewalks,

downpour and all that follows:

asphalt glaring, muddle mirrored streetlights’

translations lost amiss.

I would be delighted

if you’d stick around

instead of sitting silently in the corner,

asking permission to leave

as soon as somebody else does it first.

Others cannot wrap as well as you,

try as they may.


and the rain patters above,

like Grandma’s fingertips on her card table,

impatient for the next play.


Candles lit, my heart crossed,

for what it’s worth to cross it.

The crunch of snow,

my fingers in your pockets.


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