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Bryana Johnson

Grand Prize: 2013 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $1000

About this Poet:
Bryana’s poems have been published in a number of literary journals and she is the recipient of several poetry prizes, including, most recently, a prize in the 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg contest. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Having Decided to Stay, was released with Ethandune Publishing in 2012. Among other things, Bryana loves G.K. Chesterton, rain, acrylics, J.S. Bach, educational theory, Emily Dickinson, political science and children. She writes over at bryanajohnson.com about literature, the good life, and the World’s Great Lover.

The Cave

“They see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another…”
(–Plato, Allegory of the Cave)

With what words shall I vindicate
me and mine and the cavern of iniquity?
With what words shall I clean the dark?

How shall I scour, scrub, rub out our
history? Hide our harsh hands, our harvests
of little stilled hearts? How shall I still the ticking
of the endless red
drip?

Can mere contrition cover him, her,
and the craven cattle-cars? – the
clutter running over the railways,
the great graves saturated with
scarlet statistics and buttermilk-white
bones?

For what cause do I seek to absolve you,
me, and the multitude of urchins? – the
spiny, flesh-hungry urchins, the gamin
who want your coat, and your shirt too,
your age-old running shoes, your
spring-crisp greenbacks,
and the heart right out of your
heaving breast? For what cause am I
pleading clemency towards us?

In among these blood-stalactites, these
clammy walls, these many waters,
we have surely made ourselves at home.

Under the valley of the shadow
of death where we are catching
coin-cold fish in the silent sea, the
grave stone ceiling stretches over
us like a stiff sanction and we have
put an end to our roving ways,
our malcontent, our fuzzy dreams
of swan-tall, wind-billowed vessels.

To what end are we all clamoring our
confessions, apostrophizing, apologizing
for our crimson prosperity, as though
we are dreaming still, as though we once
expected someplace wider and are still
wistful for that?

Into this den of thieves
came the world’s great lover,
laden with honey-sweet hope
and wedding invitations.
How did we say no?

Copyright ©2013 Bryana Johnson