About this poet

Amaud Jamaul Johnson is the author of two poetry collections: Darktown Follies (Tupelo Press, 2013), recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for poetry, and Red Summer (Tupelo Press, 2006), winner of the 2005 Dorset Prize, selected by Carl Phillips. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, The MacDowell Colony, and Stanford University, Johnson serves as director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

What Spells Trouble

you have since swallowed
so much blood, the sailboats
rap violently about the docks,
and how heavy the gulls’ wings
have grown, how sour, sourly
beloved, and what shall we then
call it, this consternation, a blue
funk, some pestilence, which hangs
or blooms or paints itself silently
within the many courtyards
of the body, or across that high
court of the skull, what looms
like another steamrolled peony,
or some pink paper moon.

Copyright © 2018 Amaud Jamaul Johnson. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2018. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2018 Amaud Jamaul Johnson. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2018. Used with permission of the author.

Amaud Jamaul Johnson

Amaud Jamaul Johnson is the author of two poetry collections: Darktown Follies (Tupelo Press, 2013), recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for poetry, and Red Summer (Tupelo Press, 2006), winner of the 2005 Dorset Prize, selected by Carl Phillips. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, The MacDowell Colony, and Stanford University, Johnson serves as director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.