Size / / /

To become a goose
had seemed important, earlier,
when he made the change.
A gray goose for some reason, fat,
with the ability to lift above
the archers' arrows,
fly past the leafless autumn trees,
and cross the bowl of the mountain valley,
beyond those far peaks.
There was a mission—
to get something,
or to return with someone—
some reason to be a goose
other than just gooseness,
other than filling your wings with sky—

Hands drop the wand;
feathers cannot pick it up.
We forget when we change
we become something else.
Things mean differently.
He circled the great alpine woods,
forgetting. There, below,
knotted in the trees,
were the plottings of men,
creatures like little gods,
with their endless violence upon things.
They make such noise. They wail and bleed.
It is no place for a goose.
It is no place for one who can find
north and south within his body
and know which one to choose.




John Philip Johnson has work in Rattle, Asimov’s, F&SF, Apex, Mythic Delirium, The Pedestal, Phantom Drift, Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry,” and the Poetry Foundation, with Pushcart, Best-of-Web, and Rhysling noms. He would love to live on Mars. His comics are from his new comic book, The Book of Fly, which is graphic poetry in Twilight Zone-like episodes. Available at www.johnphilipjohnson.com.
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16 Sep 2019

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