Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language.
The Lone Palm
by Jenny Johnson
Years ago, I had a dream
in which my students taunted me,
We know who you like.
And though I had feared
they would say, Girls.
They sang back,
We know how you feel
When one of my spirits
took me out for fun,
I wanted to change together
into all that was liminal.
My chin lifting
out of a cave of shoulders
as if I’d beheld the horizon line
dedicated to slipping away,
where we might zither
as cicadas do
abandoning our exoskeletons
in exchange for
the shapes of sounds.
You were hardly there.
I was mostly alone.
The way my shirt drifted up
the closer I leaned-in,
exposing the first few rungs
of my spine, showing
the solid band of my briefs,
the sleight shifting
of absence and material
made my trunk real.
Outside, a lone palm
on the sidewalk
lifted in the breeze,
inside the walls
were all mirrors.
Copyright © 2019 by Jenny Johnson. Used with the permission of the author. Originally published in the Harvard Review (2019.)
About the Author
Jenny Johnson is the author of In Full Velvet (Sarabande Books, 2017). Her honors include a Whiting Award, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and a NEA Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, New England Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at West Virginia University, and she is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop, Pacific Lutheran University’s low-residency MFA program. She lives in Pittsburgh. For more: jennyjohnsonpoet.com
- Day 1: Pride Month by Shelley Wong
- Day 2: Is This or Is This True as Happiness by Derrick Austin
- Day 3: Nature Poem by Sam Herschel Wein
- Day 4: Ana I Don’t Forget by Gala Mukomolova
- Day 5: Eavesdropping on Adam and Eve by Andrea Cohen
- Day 6: Billow of Thistles by Ruben Quesada
- Day 7: Prayer for My Trans Siblings by H. Melt
- Day 8: Summer by Chen Chen
- Day 9: Embers by Henri Cole
- Day 10: Male Beauty by Richie Hofmann
- Day 11: [unsent draft] by Rachel Mennies
- Day 12: Forty by Julia Guez
- Day 13: Of Contour, of Cadence by Phillip B. Williams
- Day 14: The Men We Loved by Cyril Wong
- Day 15: Riding the Bus Back to Oxford by Catherine Pond
- Day 16: The Window by Jay Besemer
- Day 17: Want Could Kill Me by Xandria Phillips
- Day 18: What a Waste by Jill McDonough
- Day 19: Eros by Randall Mann
- Day 20: An Act by Michael M. Weinstein
- Day 21: Things I Didn’t Do With this Body and Things I Did by Amanda Gunn
- Day 22: Puzzle Pieces by D. A. Powell
- Day 23: Duplicity by Jameson Fitzpatrick
- Day 24: Is It True All Legends Once Were Rumors by Carl Phillips
- Day 25: High School Sleepovers with Straight Girls by Julian Guy
- Day 26: Abu Nuwas by Kazim Ali
- Day 27: Observation Car by Lauren Clark
- Day 28: Love Song by Eileen Myles
- Day 29: Donuts by Dan Kraines
- Day 30: The Lone Palm by Jenny Johnson
Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this second year of our series is the first movement, Schéhérazade, from Masques, Op. 34, by Karol Szymanowski, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.