devin johnston



for Stan Brakhage




Since last I wrote 
my little bird
has turned into a cat, 

horizon hedge 
to bauhaus block
since feather touched the page. 

The names I knew
have all been struck
from sidewalks marked in proof, 

and consequence 
divorced from act—
as thought divorced from

since last I put
my burnished steel
engraver to the plate. 


Particles far smaller than those
of surging water or smoke
outstrip them in mobility,
moved by a slighter impetus. 

In the first autumn rain,
nettles disperse;
smooth calculi
scatter in the flood. 

Thought is light—
its fabric swayed
by mere images
of smoke and mist. 

A puddle of finger’s depth
formed in the hollows between
the highway’s cracks
offers to the eye 

a downward view
of such scope
as the vertiginous sky
that yawns above. 

The velocity of surface film
accelerates at night;
painted cellulose acetate
smothers the steady light. 


In anticipation of the night,
Mimi arches
against the
while Red circles the rug. 

Light softens, and the sky begins to snow;
lacquered larches click
against the glass. 

Nearby, phone-lines crackle with
the shaky tones of break-up: 

exhausted by pretense 

a voice repeats 

I just don’t know—I just don’t


Though living in my head,
I would speak my mind— 

my mind has changed /
I’ve changed my mind. 

I stand behind
a wall of flame 

which some have called
screen memory 

and others call
the hollows; 

in back of which
amongst the summer trees 

a sudden flock alights—
something to count on.