Pendulum: poems by Jill McCabe Johnson. Number 1 in Volume Six of our limited-edition Summer Kitchen Chapbook Series.
Cover image: vintage feedsack cotton. Series design by Ron Mohring.
Published: August 1, 2018 [49 copies]
JILL MCCABE JOHNSON is the author of the poetry collections, Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown, and Diary of the One Swelling Sea, winner of a Nautilus Book Award in Poetry, plus the nonfiction chapbook, Borderlines. Jill is the founding director of Artsmith and teaches English at Skagit Valley College in Washington State’s San Juan Islands where she makes her home.
Apogee of Apathy
What if each window of the bus framed for us—
that is, each glass pane, fogged in winter
and the half-drowsed breaths of each passenger—
what if those glimpses, murky with strangers
on the street and the all-too-human
foibles of garbage and graffiti and grime
were recorded as pages in the books
of our lives? What if all the things we can’t
unsee, the daily crimes, petty and otherwise,
maintained their equal importance, and couldn’t
be erased by the biographers in our brains,
who handpick what others may or may not see.
What if our legacy were merely a litany
of our crimes against the earth, against humanity,
that we did not stop, that we watched
indifferently from the scratched and vandalized
windows of our daily excuse. What if
our children, and our children’s children
had to answer for the drooping eyelid,
nodding stupor we bring to the world, the trash
we overlook when we walk the dog.
What if our only vestiges are the bones
of orphans and orcas, Shi’a and Sunnis,
we killed or let die on our watch.