“Walking” by Allan Johnston

Sarcobatus Falt, Nevada
Sarcobus Flat, Nevada, 2007 photocollage by Matthew Chase-Daniel

One starts by leaving the present,
because, as always with shoes,
it’s tied to hold the pieces in.
Funny to think of a foot

as a whole, yet when it’s rendered
in marble or schist
it only plants us further in.
There is every reason

to walk carefully
but whatever you might step in
is not one of them.
Some unavoidable things need blessings.

One possibility is to talk
about days, for every one of them
bears a mandate of light.

Walk in air, walk on water.
Some things are tougher.  Walk in and out.
Crawl into life. Fall out of life.
Pick it up.  Keep on walking.



Allan Johnston earned his M.A. in Creative Writing and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Davis. His poems have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, and Rhino. He is the author of one full-length poetry collection (Tasks of Survival, 1996) and a chapbook (Northport, 2010), and has received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination (2009), and First Prize in Poetry in the Outrider Press Literary Anthology competition (2010). Originally from California, he now teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago. He serves as a reader for Word River and for the Illinois Emerging Poets competition, and is the editor of the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education. His scholarly articles have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, College Literature, and several other journals.

Read an interview with Allan here.