Kimberly Johnson

A Nocturnal Upon Saint Charles Yeager’s Day
July 21, 2011 Johnson Kimberly

A Nocturnal Upon Saint Charles Yeager’s Day


Here comes that sonic boom
thumping at the chest like a kickdrum
the first and final beat of a tune called
Too Late. Ever too late the event
reveals its narrative to the sense
ever too slow on the uptake,
ever life hurtles heartbreak to heartbreak
while I rattle around in its mach-cone
trying to work out the ever-aftermath.


To the palm that rests atop the trembling
diaphragm, not to calm but to confirm
the body’s record, all this shock and roar
is a comfort. After such rough cleavings—
molecule from molecule, the sound shorn
back from the air and stacked upon itself—
there should be noise. There should be a bombblast
bellknocking bonejar of noise, a jolt
to all wavelengths, a tremor through the pavement
tripping car-alarms and dog-howls to the proof
that something happened.


Something happened. Something wider than the sky
got broken, something faster than a word
arrowed into it. That damned and blessed sonic boom
will roll on past me down the road, drumming up
the next dirge by the time I know to mourn
whatever it was.

Kimberly Johnson is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014), as well as of book-length translations of Virgil and Hesiod.  Recipient of fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, she has recent work in Kenyon Review and ​Harvard Review.