Though night eats its way out of the sack
That cat is in, yet still the caterwaul
Of promises defeats the constant scrawl
Of secrets tattooed stiffly on the back
Like the whip marks or elevated track
Across the city’s underlying wall
Of poverty. They lean into the haul
Of sentences and doing: if you attack
The sense it all could make, you just might lack
Or lose at least the monastery caul
You wear to each witch Sabbath. You might fall
Away from fear; lean into the hard rack
Of torture as if you had found a gift.
The nails are by the cross; now hit, now lift.

Image credit:PROistolethetv

Allan Johnston's poetry has appeared in Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, Rhino, Weber Studies, and more than forty other journals. He has received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, Pushcart Prize nominations, and first prize in poetry in the 2010 Outrider Press Literary Anthology contest. He has published two books of poetry, Tasks of Survival, which appeared in 1996, and In a Window, published in 2018. He also has three chapbooks, Northport (2010), Departures (2013), and Contingencies (2015), all from Finishing Line Press. He teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and at DePaul University, both in Chicago.