Vanessa Couto Johnson

The Fixed Meal

Oblivion spreads
its tablecloth.

Earth elements can
combine into spoons.

Hunger for the darkest dirt,
until the fullest hill

un-fills with heat.
No one is detained.

No one is looking
at the sky now.

The land loses
hair that stood on end.

Spread the white napkin
over the lap.

This is not a surrender. This is
not a surrender, but the needed

meal, the bite
that must be chewed,

the mushrooms that begin
to inherit.

Vanessa Couto Johnson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Toad Suck Review, The Destroyer, decomP, and elsewhere. She is listed as a Highly Commended Poet for the 2014 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. She currently teaches at Texas State University, where she earned her MFA, and blogs occasionally at

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