Quiver: Poems

Front Cover
Texas Review Press, 2023 - Poetry - 126 pages
"Luke Johnson cements his title as the uncontested master of shadow... Quiver will change the way you see."

--Patricia Smith, author of Unshuttered: Poems

"Quiver is a rare creation full of song and scar, authenticity and Old Testament mythology, of emotional complexity and witness."

--John Sibley Williams, Scale Model of a Country at Dawn

"The poems [in Quiver] are singing when they are stinging, scalding as they serve up something wildly fresh, slap after exquisite slap."

--Elaine Sexton, author of Drive

"...a work of glorious complexity."

--Ellen Bass

"...the most visceral, haunting book of poems I have read in years."

--Lee Herrick, California Poet Laureate

Quiver is a book of reckoning, a book of ghosts, a book of lineal fracture and generational fatherlesness. It's a visceral guide through boyhood into fatherhood. One that yields witness to trauma, erotic shames, brutalities and toxic masculinity, and in so doing, emerges with a speaker beginning to free himself. Patricia Smith said it best: "Quiver will change the way you see."



Mother couldn't manage

what sated me, so she prayed:

sought in silence

a substance that'd soothe,

something familial with grace.

I groaned. Broke bodies

over blacktop's pane, a bottom-

less well of blood. At seven

I smothered a frog and fed each leg

to my quivering sister

laughed while she choked out its skin. At twelve,

I pulled a pistol from under

the vacant shed and shoved

its shudder to a schoolboy's temple, teased

while he wept in his piss.

And yet all along a Psalm, a satchel

of prayer: song. Mother making

contracts with the sky, while I

tore its pages to light a fire, warm

my hands around it. Radiant blue. Red

from a faraway pine.

About the author (2023)

LUKE JOHNSON's poems can be found at Kenyon Review, Narrative Magazine, Florida Review, Frontier, Cortland Review, Nimrod, Thrush, and elsewhere. You can find more of his poetry at lukethepoet.com.

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