Will Johnstone
"Quailbob" Poetry
Santa Fe, New Mexico

ISBN 978-0-615-41331-0 'Quailbob', Poetry by Will Johnstone, Artist

Once I was an Earthquake

Once I was an Earthquake
That's all
Just a tremble in the ground
Something to remember

Today I am the storm
With gale and thunder
Drenching rain
But most of all the darkness
burst by glaring light
and sound
A sort of tingling awe
Soaking through the skin

Just the wind.

      ...1967 - 1968

I bought a leather hat

I bought a leather hat on a back road in
I bought amber beads in a flea market in
I bought one night's room in Vancouver,
I bought inspiration at a poetry reading in
      Santa Fe

I paid sixteen dollars for the hat
I paid 30 Kroner for the amber
I paid 38 Canadian for the room
I paid for the inspiration by opening
      wine bottles at the reading
             in Santa Fe

In my isolation travelling the world
I had forgotten that struggling with
      a moment
      with others
      of the moment
      to make of the moment
      the moment
      and together
      of dreams
      come true
Is more difficult than
      and inspiration

            ...after 1994

I had forgotten all the other places

I had forgotten all the other places
      one could be
the bottom of the sea
or down a-ways
the center of the earth
above the clouds
outer space
in a star
outside a galaxy
or just being a grain of sand
a blade of grass
a sculpture
a light bulb
or a snail

I must remember to remember
      all the possibilities!

I would have thought the paint ...

I would have thought the paint on
the canvas dried by now,
     weeks having passed, months and years.
But still I keep fooling with it,
     spreading it around,
trying to see whether if it were spread
     this way instead of that it would be
Acrylic dries so much faster than oil

Oil is malleable. It can be worked,
     reworked, thinned, re-thinned, spread,
     mixed in weeks later with some other
     color, wiped off with solvent.
Acrylic dries in minutes.

I used to paint in oils,
     thinking that I could make
     changes and adjustments
          any time, any where.
Did I ever suspect that I was allergic
     to both oil and to changes?

Now I paint in acrylics.
     They dry quickly.
And although they can be over-painted,
     The layers remain.

      April 26, 2010

Crossed the moment carelessly

Crossed the moment carelessly
Shook my head
Should not have let it get away from me
That is what I said

Should have grabbed on to it
Should have gone on for the ride
Should have let those feelings out
I always keep inside

Yes I crossed the moment carelessly
I let it get away
I should have surfed that moment
I should have let it stay

I should have grabbed on to it
Should have gone on for the ride
Should have let those feelings out
I always keep inside

      ...after 2000

Nine impromptu poems

    (Written to the music of Michael Vlatkovich, Kent Maclagan,and Chris Lee
        West Side Books, 3434 W32nd. Ave,
        Denver, Colorado.)


Not that you should have come here expecting
      what you did
You should have tasted the ambiance
      And walked in knowing
That you would dive into con-cadence
       Drawn from ether


Downbeat bass, gotcha slide horn,
      tap-it-out snare
Sit there, listening, hand on
       at least one side of your face
       Waiting for the bridge
       When it comes
       It's different
Slide horn up, downbeat bass,
      tap-it-out snare
Closes inward


Touch the low vibrations
       Soft the cymbal brush
Up four notes on the horn
Tie, loosely, together, momentary sounds
Wrapping, synapse like around an illusion
       of nighttime in a bookstore
              (on 32nd Avenue)
A few people, maybe more than ten, hushed,
listening in the realm of
       "Organizing Social Change,"
       "The Beats,"
       "The Original Peter Rabbit"
Brush strokes, bass notes
Slide horn caressing the air
      above the music stand
Watching the scene

You could have subtracted yourself
      from the beat
            it would still be there
Subtracted yourself from the slide horn
       nothing would be missing
Subtracted yourself from long deep strings
      plucked into the abyss
It is not you that plays
It is them

                        You did not just come in here
      for the dripping horn
You came in because you wanted to be entertained
They fooled you, they sucked you
      into the triumvirate
They stirred you up into the interplay
       of string and brush and horn
Poured into your ears their blend

Plunger bowl on the bell,
      slide way down to the floor
Sticks on the trap
      like the essence of enraptured heart
Strings unconstrained
Punctuation marks!

If the long deep strings had not
      pulled you in
The horn slide would have
And you would yield
      to the brush strokes massage
Could the triangle not call you to wonder
      why there were rivers and breezes?

Then they told you where you are.
"Right Here!"
Said "Get this!"
"This is now!"

Horned into the calloused bell
Haired onto the strings
Bakers pan reflecting maybe kitchen notes?
But no!
They told you where you are.
      "Right Here!"
Said "Get this!"
      "This is now!"

I could not extract myself from the music.

      ...Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    138 pages. Paperback. Available.