poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Daniel Johnson published How to Catch a Falling Knife, winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award, in 2010 with Alice James Books. In connection with the book’s release, Johnson performed an illuminated version of the text involving poetry, original music, and the found home movies of William Bradley, a World War II-era Fuller Brush salesman from Davenport, Iowa. Johnson’s poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2007, The Iowa Review, The Boston Review, American Letters & Commentary, and I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio. He is the founding executive director of 826 Boston, a youth writing center, which is part of the national network founded by writer Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari. Johnson lives with his wife and children in Boston. 

Inheritance

Daniel Johnson
We drank hard water.
Spoke in plain language.

Said what we didn't

with a joke or a look.
One went missing—

let silence drill its hole.
A second fell ill.

We cloaked our mirrors. 
Slashed a red X

on the door to our house.
Pass over us, I asked

the raven sky,
or burn in me 

a second mouth.

From How To Catch a Falling Knife by Daniel Johnson. Copyright © 2010 by Daniel Johnson. Used by permission of Alice James. All rights reserved.

From How To Catch a Falling Knife by Daniel Johnson. Copyright © 2010 by Daniel Johnson. Used by permission of Alice James. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Ebele Okpokwasili-Johnson

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson published How to Catch a Falling Knife, winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award, in 2010 with Alice James Books. In connection with the book’s release, Johnson performed an illuminated version of the text involving poetry, original music, and the found home movies of William Bradley, a World War II-era Fuller Brush salesman from Davenport, Iowa.

by this poet

poem
Rockets concuss. Guns rattle off.
Dogs in a public square
feed on dead horses.

I don’t know, Jim, where you are.
When did you last see
birds? The winter sky in Boston

is gray with flu. Newspapers,
senators, friends, even your mom
on Good Morning America—

no one knows where you are.
It’s night, cold and