Hello, I’m a Poem About Johnny Cash

Summer, 2015 / No. 35

This is a poem about Johnny Cash,

as the line above this one clearly states.

It stands in the centre of a derelict stage,

squints out at you, then grins.

Any poem about Johnny Cash

must refer to black—black shirts, black hats—

to Johnny’s junkie days and redemption

with June, to “I didn’t do it, my truck did,

and it’s dead, so you can’t question it.”

Must allude to Johnny meeting with Richard

Nixon, and to Carlene Carter and

Roseanne Cash, plus Carlene marrying

Nick Lowe, and to “The Beast in Me”

(a song Nick wrote for Johnny),

to God and prisons and swinging nooses,

and a train pulling out of a station,

to Johnny’s cover of “Hurt,” and how

my dad saw himself in the mirror

the day before he died and he said,

“What’s happened to me?”

He said, “What’s happened to me?”

and sat back down on his bed.