Alx Johns poetry

alex

I met Alx Johns at the Southern Literary Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia last spring (2015). I was fortunate enough to be the moderator for his poetry workshop. I had never met Dr. Johns, nor had I heard any of his poetry; however, I can say that when he walked in the door and greeted me with his jeans, short sleeves, biker style boots, and tattoos, I knew they had the right guy for me to moderate. I read an introduction of his accomplishments and he went right into his poetry.

 

Alx comes off as rather shy, introverted, but brilliant. I was immediately taken in by his poetry because of its fresh semantics, its current relevance, and its twists and turns between satire and raw descriptiveness.

 

Often times at these workshops, poets and writers will read a bit and then lecture a bit. Not so with Alx, when he asked the class if they would like him to stop reading and teach, they all just signaled for more poetry. Everyone in the room was enthralled with his fascinating style of spoken word. I emailed him recently and asked if I could feature a couple of his poems here at Two Drops of Ink and he was gracious to agree. I would encourage the reader to read these allowed as they are intended to be “spoken word” poems. Here are two of my personal favorites from his book Robot Cosmetics:

 

Toyota Tacoma

I drive one, like so many do

And lately mine`s

Looking more and more

Like the real thing,

 

Gravel-scratched paint on

That too-familiar frame

Spitting dust through

Some pathetic village

Past retreating figures

 

Somalia,

Sierra Leone

Afghanistan

 

Illiterate, skinny boys

In back, behind

That .50 cal.

Shell casings crowding

Around calloused bare feet.

 

Hell, desperate

Libyans even welded

 

Anti-aircraft guns and

Multiple-rocket launchers

 

Into the bed of a jacked-up Prerunner,

mine`s got some straw, stray sticks and shells

 

From pistachios tossed out

The window, caught then dropping in that

Swirl of wind.

 

Rwanda, Uganda

Arkansas

 

Remember that tired footage

Of him, Bin Laden, the devil incarnate

Kneeling before one, firing his Russian rifle

To the muezzin`s sacred approval?

 

Toyota,

This is how to market yourself to the twenty-first century,

Vehicle of the human will,

The choice of warlords worldwide

The Kalashnikov of pick-up trucks.

(Robot Cosmetics,2015)

 

Fuck You, Cheerios!

Your dirty, little circles

Staring back milk eyed,

Oooh…

Like you’re not going to eat us.

You need us.

We were there

In your high chair

Taught you tactility,

Had your mom

Saying our name more than yours there,

Didn`t we?

Sent her that free

Cheerios activity book.

Slid down your throat

At that vicious kitchen table

Before you left

To navigate the breastscape

Of the school hall.

Go on, throw us on the floor,

Crush us under your heal

Like you did before

There`s always more;

We`re cheap

And we`re here now with our supply

Of fiber in your bowl

And you’ve got to get to work.

(Robot Cosmetics, 2015)

Pavement Saw Press

321 Empire St

Montpelier, Ohio 43543

www.pavementsaw.org 

Video of Alx Johns reading poetry:

https://web.ung.edu/media/Chautauqua/Poetry-Resistance-Part1-Alex.mp4

 

 

Alx Johns is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Georgia, where he teaches creative writing and American literature. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and currently resides in the Athens, Georgia area. Alx is the recipient of the 2013 Pavement Saw Press Chapbook Prize for Robot Cosmetics, and his poems have appeared in Stray Dog Almanac, Chaffin Journal, The Oklahoma Review, Red River Review, Kota Press, Scrivener`s Pen, and Bellemeade Books, and were featured in the No Small Measure Georgia Broadsides project.  Alx is the managing director of Athens Word of Mouth, a popular monthly reading series bringing together nationally known and local talent.

 

 

 

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3 comments

  1. Welcome, Axl; I’m so pleased that you’ve contributed to Two Drops of Ink. I must confess to poet envy, and after reading both of yours, it’s not lessening.

    I value the compressed language of poetry. I enjoyed both of them for different reasons. I hope to see more.

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