Poets and married couple Amaud Johnson and Cherene Sherrard live in Madison, Wisconsin. Parents to two teenage boys, Amaud and Cherene each have a new book out, which focuses on their roles as fathers and mothers. Steve Paulson visited them in their backyard.
Don’t Forget You (r) Lunch
From “Imperial Liquor”
By Amaud Jamaul Johnson
my dear son: it won’t matter
how friendly you are, or honest
or which ivy league school
you’ve attended. It won’t matter
whether you hold the door,
shop with your hands out of
your pockets, or say “thank you”
after giving the cashier most of
your money, or saying to the local
barista or waiter, “fine, and how
are you.” it won’t matter if your
lawn is cut, or the hedges, or
whether the paint along your
garage door begins to weather,
whether your car is dented, or
carries a few seasons of wax.
whether you signal, or roll through
a four-way intersection, whether
you roll down all the windows
or spread your fingers against
the steering wheel or against
the dash, the way you might
trace your palm for yet another
thanksgiving construction paper
turkey. there are children and
there are no children. I think
i’ve failed to teach you how
to protect your heart. every
decade now i grow more quiet
like sound is folding itself
and cutting dark shapes into
corners of my throat. sound
being thumbed down to fit
into some undersized box.
and i feel angrier. and maybe
it’s the money or that how i
dress never seemed to matter.
the first time a police officer
put a gun to my head, the night
was as still and musty and oily
as your body is now. I lost count.
but who counts? curbs and hoods
and concrete and sky. you know
your mother collected all your baby
teeth in a tea tin from England. some
nights, i’m sweating and the stars
start rattling in my head.
By Cherene Sherrard
My son, ½ cup white flour, ¼ cup brown sugar,
has trouble with fractions. When pregnant
I did not follow instructions, beat the yolks and sugar
together until very light. It was months before I accepted
I was carrying another human being, add 1/2 pound butter,
whip fourteen egg whites, flavor with lemon, half gill brandy.
The ophthalmologist suspects he’s color-blind,
½ cup molasses, the yolks of eight eggs. Perhaps
that is why he prefers brown sugar in his oatmeal.
He can’t tell how it’s different from white, flavor with
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or mace. I confess,
I palmed the iron pills, drank light roast brews
without sugar or cream. Mixed children usually
come out beautifully. The doctor is unsure about mine.
Paper and butter the pan, first a layer of the white,
then of the dark, alternately finishing with the white.