Three Poems by Jill McCabe Johnson

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Cone Pocket

Mum chamber
snug in the folds
of scale and bract.
Whittle Nugget.

Pale Seed.
tucked in,
and cossetted.

After this greening
after summer drought
and autumn needling
you twirl on a

single wing
and spinning
onto moss beds

and bracken,

and alone.



Past Reckoning

Little nubbin of nut meat
burrowed in humus horizon,
more pine than pip, flushed
and acid-etched beneath
a blanket of needle spatter,
spread by winter and wind.

Thirsty squeak
squirreled in dankness,
how the rains cascade
and waterfall, limb
over lengthening limb,
dripping to you
at my root line, fresh Smudgeling,
outskirt of darkened reach.



when you feel

your branch tips growing
think of ice crystals
a limb     a finger
cilia on cilia     brush
of sable     be wind-
sifter     light-grubber
wingtip and whistle

when your head breaches
the lightline     chloro-
fill dark needles
with nothing
but sugar and seral
stage     transcend
with all your epic
and heroine dreams

when ring-pain
stretches your stem
first root-clench
then harry your foment
of sap     springboard
aloft     crown into sky
spruced from this
mulching earth




Jill McCabe Johnson is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown, and Diary of the One Swelling Sea, winner of a Nautilus Book Award, plus the nonfiction chapbook, Borderlines. She was a Deborah Tall Memorial Fellow at Pacific Lutheran University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing, and the Louise Van Sickle Fellow in Poetry at the University of Nebraska, where she earned her Ph.D. in English. Jill teaches writing at Skagit Valley College, and is the founding director of Artsmith, a nonprofit to support the arts.

Read three poems by Jill McCabe Johnson also appearing in

Photo of pine cone by TanteTati, courtesy Pixabay.

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