Amanda Johnston earned a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of the poetry collection Another Way to Say Enter (Argus House Press, 2017). The recipient of multiple Artist Enrichment grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Christina Sergeyevna Award from the Austin International Poetry Festival, she is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. Johnston is a Stonecoast MFA faculty member at the University of Southern Maine, a cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founding executive director of Torch Literary Arts. She serves on the Cave Canem Foundation board of directors and currently lives in Austin, Texas.
after Yusef Komunyakaa My black face fades, hiding inside black smoke. I knew they'd use it, dammit: tear gas. I'm grown. I'm fresh. Their clouded assumption eyes me like a runaway, guilty as night, chasing morning. I run this way—the street lets me go. I turn that way—I'm inside the back of a police van again, depending on my attitude to be the difference. I run down the signs half-expecting to find my name protesting in ink. I touch the name Freddie Gray; I see the beat cop's worn eyes. Names stretch across the people’s banner but when they walk away the names fall from our lips. Paparazzi flash. Call it riot. The ground. A body on the ground. A white cop’s image hovers over us, then his blank gaze looks through mine. I’m a broken window. He’s raised his right arm a gun in his hand. In the black smoke a drone tracking targets: No, a crow gasping for air.