October 16-22, 2023: Poetry from Richard Eric Johnson and Chelsea Dodds

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Richard Eric Johnson

Richard Eric Johnson has authored five volumes of poetry. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He holds a B.A. in Germanic Languages and an M.S. in Education with both degrees earned at Indiana University. He is retired and resides in Arlington, Virginia.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Richard Eric Johnson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Coins of Our Music

(for Mick)

we were
by God and Bo Jangles
an Irish hillbilly
an Ami Celt
plucking our hearts
banjo guitar strings
howling crooning
spiritual folk lyrics

in a sunrise
Hamburg fish market
hawkers slapping
eels and fish
our music
kept the heads turning
money to the hawkers
money to our hats
on the ground
up in the air
the gulls soared

we partied
hops and barley
North Sea cuisine
planned next performances

and that was that

our coins
our music
long ago spent

Chelsea Dodds

Chelsea Dodds lives in Connecticut, where she teaches high school English. She holds an MFA in fiction from Southern Connecticut State University, and her writing has appeared in Maudlin House and Sixfold Journal. She is currently querying her first novel. Visit Chelsea on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Chelsea Dodds and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


You turn on the hazard lights and park
halfway through the underpass,
giddy at how the California sun
illuminates your favorite mural in town and
we need to take a picture in front of it now.
Back on the road, we sing along
to Tame Impala while you text your ex
and point out funny license plates
I could maybe text my ex
if we were on better terms.

At lunch, you let me try your horchata.
I hold the cup to my lips and wait
to sip while you excitedly describe
that it tastes like the smell inside Pottery Barn,
and then we both laugh at the accuracy.
When our food arrives, we scoop grilled
cactus onto our plates and you can’t
stop smiling over everything new to you
on this trip and I can’t stop admiring how
you always find joy in the little things.

“Salinas is a vibe,” some friends say
before we travel out there, but I know
our adventures are different,
how we have no interest in the wineries
but we pluck grapes from roadside vineyards
and rush to wash down the sour taste.
How we search quaint neighborhoods
for estate sales we never find. How you park
in the street again to free a piece of prickly pear
and mail it home to New York, and I think
I could drive around aimlessly with you forever.

And in the evenings, when we retire
to the Best Western next to the McDonalds,
in separate but adjacent rooms,
I lie in my bed and listen through the wall
for signs you’re awake: a snippet
of phone conversation, the TV, but all I
hear is the hum of the AC and I wonder
if this is the closest I’ll ever get to falling
asleep next to you, always divided by walls
and state lines and past lovers who still hold
space in our hearts.

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