Amanda Johnston



a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
when there's no one there to hold you tight. ~ Luther Vandross


Tucked under an overpass – a bedroom

with no walls. An Oriental rug divides highway soot and city

muck from what is claimed as home. In the center of the rug

a queen size bed with fitted sheets and a turned down comforter

revealing two dusty white pillows. Heads rest there

under thousands of pounds of concrete and steel trusting

that the weight of the world will not come crashing down.

Is love made there in that bed? Do the world's voyeurs

discover over and over the exposed room

its contents and nothingness on display:

yes, it is this simple. This too is a life worth sharing.


I consider my home; cookie cutter stability in a shaky market.

How would my life fit under a bridge? Would there be room

for the fridge, the racks of shoes, my second living room set?

Is the plasma TV enough? Its blank face reflecting our empty

arms and wayward dreams. Would he remember the lines?


For better, for worse
For richer, for poorer


Would that sealing kiss of vows hold our binding?

Would there still be two pillows on our queen size bed?


My Father as a Blooming Stem

                        ~ For Mr. Zhu


On a rock near a quiet stream

in Guam he sits

the butt of his rifle to the earth

and leans his back to the wind

breathless in a cocoon of reeds.


Cloudy hands brace for the promise

of storms. Water collects in tear ducts

but do not break his dam. Every drop,

sacred salt, minerals kept in reserve.


The heart's tempo softens in a green light

of silence. A brief respite before dawn

and the sun's pull to rise.