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Issue 3.1

Winter 2023
3.1 Vanesa

Vanessa Couto Johnson


If the game be tied
that such knot

on the head knocks
hard doors loose

enough that schools
of new flip onto the bleachers,

then it won’t run
dry. Pulse court.

We lap and clap
for the frog

in our throats we’ve sworn
away from extinction. Worth

-y reme-
dial tone: valid, sound, pond


Vanessa Couto Johnson (she/they) is the author of the full-length poetry books pH of Au (Parlor Press, Free Verse Editions Series 2022) and Pungent dins concentric (Tolsun Books, 2018), as well as three poetry chapbooks. Most recently, Vanessa's poems have appeared in The Shore, The Broken City, Vagabond City Lit, and Rough Cut, among others.

Vanessa's Book Recommendations

Two books that impacted the manuscript these poems are from would be Matthew A. Cronin's and Jeffrey Loewenstein's The Craft of Creativity and Andrew Elfenbein’s The Gist of Reading.


This poem is part of a sequence of poems that responds/thematically feeds off of parts of a quote from an organic chemistry book; in this case, the quote is “The ‘whole,’ however, is much more complex than these individual pieces, since they interact by multiple feedback loops in a manner that makes it impossible to show that each effect has a simple cause.” This poem is the end of the sequence; I wanted it to be reflective, hopeful, but also concerned and seeking to give voice to the voiceless: “We lap and clap/for the frog//in our throats we’ve sworn/away from extinction.” I hope for how I have broken up “ponderer” to give home to the unheard species (“pond”) and give the ribbit (“-er / -er”) sound. The “game” of our environment continues.

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