and we were there

and we were there

by Jeff T. Johnson

we can inhabit the past
a friend tells me on the telephone
we were talking about lines
the quality of pause
he wrote a poem like a conversation
i was having with myself

come on in, the record says

all this instead of a nap
something for later
pittsburgh pittsburgh
pittsburgh summer aught-five

there’s many kinds of breaks, and ways to say
that more or less make grammatical sense
sic-ing language on the others, those who listen
those who read

i did get to sleep on the sun’s time
reclining in my chair, what smith called
an old man’s nap when i awoke to her return

we inhabit the past, i remember as spring arrives
floating old clear records of dead men singing
each day a place to be divided by infinity
take your pick tomorrow if it ever comes

our favorite lines were the best ones we knew
at the moment we were asked
when a song came to mind
as we tripped on broken sidewalk tiles

the weight of what’s behind us
is worth it in the houses
on our evening visitations
in short lines for real states
sides we can pin to the table
when we need to return
to every time the record played

Jeff T. Johnson is coming to terms with punctuation. 

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