Campbell Corner Language Exchange

The Poetry of Kate Knapp Johnson

Belief - Poor Soul - Seeing, in Three Pieces


It is out there, light
polishing the field, turning the long
blades not green, not gold;
but a necklace of these
hues, a perishing bridge
of angles and distance--
so that we must be in a kind od spell
while we live; how light effects
this silvering, then spills
into the relative dark.  Impossible
being, what a strange metaphor;
you glaze the entire world
with light-- and what does that mean
when we can't even see what it is
we see by?

Poor Soul

Sometimes I must speak roughly
to it: "Shut up! Just do
what I say," because I've been watching
the soul for a long time.
The soul capitulates like the rabbit
to whom God gave no
really useful defenses.

Poor soul, it is not a mind
that it can know itself
and so it is still capable
of love.

Seeing, in Three Pieces

Somehow we must see
through the shimmering cloth
of daily life, its painted,
evasive facings of what to eat,
to wear? Which work
matters? Is a bird more
or less than a man?


There have been people
who helped the world. Named
or not named. They weren't interested
in what might matter,
doubled over as they were
with compassion. Laden
branches, bright rivers.


When a bulb burns out
we just change it--
it's not the bulb we love;
it's the light.

(for Joseph Campbell)