by Ronald Johnson

Today I saw the word written on the poplar leaves.
 It was “dazzle.” The dazzle of the poplars.
As a leaf startles out
from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,
so the word did from a leaf—
A Mirage Of The Delicate Polyglot
inventing itself as cipher. But this, in shifts & gyrations,
grew in brightness, so bright
the massy poplars soon outshone the sun . . .
“My light—my dew—my breeze—my bloom.” Reflections
In A Wren’s Eye.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ronald Johnson (1935-1998) was a Kansas native who lived most of his adult life in San Francisco. He spent 20 years writing a long poem titled ARK, completed in 1991. His subsequent work included rewriting Milton’s Paradise Lost by excision – using an 1892 edition and omitting most of the text to create a text of his own. His other work includes the poetry collection The Book of the Green Man (W.W. Norton and Company, 1967). (Read more at

ART: “Lane with Poplars,” drawing by Vincent Van Gogh (1882).