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WINTER 2022-23

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Jerry Johnson

(Finishing Line Press 2022)

There is a latter day Hemingway quality to the persona in many of the poems in A COLDNESS, Jerry Johnson’s volume of poetry published by Finishing Line Press.
Is there reason to mourn? Surely. These are often poems of their time — Charlottesville, political strife, the debilitating impact of COVID on the world-traipsing jet-setter and the down and out man on the street all find their place in these poems, and is palpable.

The urbane sophisticate is frequently present, sitting aux table and people watching in one of the worlds’ great capitals, with a white tablecloth and a full litre, still water, clear shimmer beckoning.

This is poetry that is in the world and of it, football players swinging at delicate heads with metal helmets, soccer fathers swinging hard; fighting beltway gridlock, teleconferencing with anonymous talking heads, lamenting the strident division in the body politic and liberty misunderstood. This is America, falling asleep after a fine night out on Duval Street, Key West or Harry’s Bar in Venice or Hotel Lutetia in Paris, and waking up in Charlottesville.

But Johnson is at home, and forthright about it, in asserting his literary inheritances, declaring at one point

Like Langston, I’m the darker brother
and I Too Sing America, and despite
the fact that Liberty in the harbor
never welcomed me, alongside Liberty
I Too Mourn

“All ain’t right with the world…,” he declares. “We cross our own bridge of sighs, we tread our own trail of tears… nonetheless, we still dream.”

Through it all, we must believe, with Jerry Johnson, that Earth — and Humanity — will have its day.