The Neighborhood, a poem by Jamie Johnson at
Nikola Knezevic

The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood

written by: Jamie Johnson


I collect some ephemera and push
through the tacky screen door onto
the back porch.

Finding a seat on my grandmother’s
Bunting chair, the vintage one with the
pie crust pattern.

I notice the sun warming my skin as the
gravelly hum of the spring’s first lawn
mower begins.

A breeze drifts across the yard, reminding
me to drink my coffee before it cools. I lean
back installing my glasses.

I read a headline; the Skaggs wave and
so do the Faulkners who pass on bikes
with their large brood.

The Swaffords’ black mutt bounds
through a diminutive creek that popped up
as a result of the night’s spring deluge.

Feral children follow splashing and
cackling, some ride boogie boards, all
are soaked and sodden but euphoric

The soft buzz of a small chainsaw comes
from a cloaked location; neighbors
congregate at the fence to examine the
cacophony of noises.

Their attention is drawn to an ancient tree
where a willowy man, attached to a rope, swings
limb to limb as if dancing a delicate Viennese

As he cuts every branch the neighbors’
heads sway gently in rhythm with his

A clunky limb plunges from the tree, tangling
the security rope and taking the woodland
acrobat with it.

He freefalls and the neighborhood watches
in horror and at the last moment his rope snaps

He swings across the lawn landing on his
feet, a move only rivaled by svelte
gymnasts careening off the vault.

The Faulkners gasp, the Skaggs clap
furiously and the Swaffords’ dog jumps
up to lick the man in his face.

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