“Sooth (part 3 of 3)” by David Jhave Johnston

Link to poems.

Note: “Root,” “Soul,” and “Snow” are part of a suite of 6 love poems titled “Sooth” by David Jhave Johnston that use the same interface, each of which has its own tone and strategies. In order to best represent them, I will write a posting on poems in this suite each day, starting on February 12 and concluding on Valentine’s Day 2012.


The lines in this poem swirl back and forth from they moment they are brought forth, flowing from one connection to another. Each musical iambic trimeter line (with abundant variation from the pattern) is a complete phrase and thought, and delivers a train of thought that flows like the video of water in the background, erasing boundaries between the subject and object of love.


Miles away from your average Valentine’s Day e-card, this poem superposes pithy language about sex and love on a video of a large black fish breathing through its gills as the words float before it. The sounds and image are not in the least romantic, yet reinforce the idea of embodiment, put forth in such beneficial terms.


This poem concludes the suite by offering a background video of an extreme closeup on snow that leaves only a thin strip of blue background on the top of the screen. The letters are white, so they are almost unreadable against the white background, but they thankfully float to the blue area to deliver an idea and its antithesis: how we are simultaneously together and alone.

The circularity of these contradictory lines resonate throughout the entire sequence of poems represented by an overarching title, “Sooth,” which means truth. Aptly enough, these poems map out a complex set of relations between thoughts, emotions, and bodies often subsumed and oversimplified by the word “love.”

Especially on Valentine’s Day.