A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Jill McCabe Johnson

is the director of Artsmith, a non-profit to support the arts.

Her writing has been featured or is forthcoming in Sea Stories, the Houston Literary Review, A River & Sound Review, and Paddle magazine.

Jill has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She and her husband enjoy cooking at their bed and breakfast on Orcas Island in Washington State.

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The Abscess Absence of Paranoia

The fern feathered across the top of your latte is
not a sign, nor is it
an arrow pointing out strangers in the alley.

My son’s action figures
strewn across the floorboards of the car don’t
have a message for you.

Your toothache is a toothache,
despite the urgency of searing pain. Abscess is not
a vehicle the gods use to reveal their multifarious plans.

The encyclopedia of symbols and your secret decoder ring
can’t help you. Only you
have the answers. Today before you

lock the doors, pull the
blinds, and hide, remember, fear is your
trigger. Only you can end the pain.