A witty and often irreverent first collection of verse, from the Emmy Awardâ€“winning Supervising Producer and Head Writer of Jeopardy!
The back cover photo of the author–open-shirted with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth as he looks off with an air of annoyance–speaks volumes to the acerbic yet playful tone of this writer, who’s as comfortable with Auden and Thomas Gray as Dr. Seuss. Intriguingly, though, Johnson’s rather colloquial tackling of topics ranging from tattoos to serious metaphysical musings on mortality yields an engaging contrast when combined with his reliance on poetic form, particularly in terms of rhyme and meter. A telling example can be found in the title piece, an extended â€œMass” expounding on the folly of war and the cyclical nature of things. Johnson often overreaches with the sonic fireworks, as evidenced in his ripe use of alliteration–â€œThe land is lush, a verdant paradise; / But lurking in the luxuries, the lice”–but his insights usually hit the mark: â€œWith all man’s modern methods, he could not / Eliminate one forlorn, wandering tribe; / When earlier, Europe itself was brought / Down by a flea. / So what can one prescribe? / A poem. That’s all. Not just a diatribe, / Even babes learn from simple nursery rhymes.” One of the most pointed stanzas here, in â€œOur Summer Trip to Oregon, 2005,” caustically describes â€œthe man in the battered pickup on interstate 5,” showcasing this poet’s wry sense of humor: â€œIt’s obvious he’s a man with strong opinions, / Though what they are is really quite a stumper; / For everything he’s killed is on his windshield, / And everything he knows is on his bumper.”
Funny, unassuming and thoughtful poems.