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Devin Johnston

Devin Johnston was born in Canton, New York in 1970, and grew up in North Carolina. He received a PhD from the University of Chicago.

Johnston is the author of several collections of poetry, including Far-Fetched (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), Traveler: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), and Sources (Turtle Point Press, 2008), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

A co-founder of Flood Editions, Johnston teaches at Saint Louis University in Missouri where he lives. 

By This Poet



A vacant hour
before the sun—
and with it a valve's 
pneumatic hush,
the deep and nautical
clunk of wood,
chanson du ricochet
of rivet gun,
trowel tap,
and bolt drawn—

the moon sets
and water breaks.

Curled within
a warm pleroma,
playing for time,
you finally turn
and push your face
toward November's 
glint of frost,
grains of salt,
weak clarities 
of dawn.

Fixed Interval

When he turns fifteen, you'll be fifty-four.
When he turns thirty, you'll be sixty-nine.
This plain arithmetic amazes more
than miracle, the constant difference more
than mere recursion of father in son.
If you reach eighty, he'll be forty-one!

The same sun wheels around again, the dawn
drawn out and hammered thin as a copper sheet.
When he turns sixty you'll be gone.
Compacted mud, annealed by summer heat,
two ruts incise this ghost-forsaken plain
and keep their track width, never to part or meet.

The Restorer

Done with mortise and tenon,
linseed oil and wax,
she stands back from the highboy
to snap a photograph with her phone,
all the while, defending a shim
to absent interlocutors
who have, admittedly, 
never seen her work	
and died three hundred years ago.