“Vanishments” by Bob Johnston

Bob Johnston


The art of losing isn’t hard to master
—Elizabeth Bishop

Mysterious disappearance is the official name that means insurance will refuse to pay
for vanished statuettes or diamond rings or the ordinary daily loss of keys and pens
and checkbook and glasses but these vanishments are not really all that mysterious
since matter is mostly empty space and any slight relaxation of the binding force
will disperse the electrons as a cloud and nuclei as dust that settles out of sight
but when yesterday disappeared the vanishment was much more noteworthy
for even if yesterday was not too memorable it was still twenty-four hours
and its disappearance gave a faint plop as air rushed in to fill the vacuum
then a whole year vanished namely 1976 with many events probably
then everything since 1928 leaving only some childhood memories
and the routine of daily life continued as if there were still a past
with eating sleeping laundry shopping rambling conversations
with people who were still here but they sometimes dimmed
and scenes that faded out like mirages or maybe ghosts
of years of long ago or now or years not yet to come
while man and all his works have passed from view
and the landscape once full of streams and trees
is barren and the horizon narrows and now
the sun disappears and then
the moon and stars
and I am alone
on high mesa

from Rattle #15, Summer 2001


Bob Johnston: “The poetry they taught us in school convinced me that this stuff was for wimps, weirdos, and girls. It took me fifty years to see the light, and I’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since. At least I know now what I want to be when I grow up.” (web)

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