Nantucket Slough

Julie Allyn Johnson


Airborne insects buzz and whine,

cicadas drone on, an infinite loop.

Shimmery wings

skim the fetid stench,

the muddy ooze

of this desolate marsh.

Papery appendages soar

amid a hushed spectacle of sound.

Cattails burst on gusts of wind,

nocturnal beings creep into the night.



mindless of the pending menace,

flit and skitter and alight in the gathering dusk.


White noise, boggy waters.


Twin beams pierce the twilight:

1961 Lincoln Continental

Tahitian Turquoise

rusted fender

broken antennae.

Sweet crunch of rubber striking gravel,

tires rolling to an ominous halt.

Driver’s door opens, then — thunk — slams shut.



slow and deliberate



Nursing the stub of a Camel Light,

the driver squints his eyes

and inhales the smoke of his delayed longing.




He pauses then pops the trunk

peers inside

tossing his cigarette.


Mockingly tender, he reaches for her.

A struggle ensues but quickly ends

for one is bound

the other is free.


Unshackling her,

he speaks in low measured tones

then utters a






Eyes wide, so wide:

the match has been struck,

her fate determined.


He nudges her forward.

She stumbles,

falls to the ground,

arms outstretched,

eyes grasping at the black veil before her.

Slowly she rises.


The man waits, relishing her fear.

Hesitant at first,

she steps forward

then does as she’s been told.


The game begins.


And in the inky blackness

an upright creature snarls

and roars his bloody mouth.



Recently retired, Julie Allyn Johnson enjoys photography, baking bread, hiking, biking, traveling with her husband, crochet, playing with her new puppy and reading about writing and poetry. Last summer, when inspiration started to keep her awake at night, poetry ensued. She is the oldest of six girls and grew up surrounded by oak, walnut and other woods native to north central Iowa piled high around the ten-acre backyard out back behind her father’s sawmill. Julie has been writing poetry for a year and a half. She has been published in Lyrical Iowa, Persephone’s Daughters, and Typishly. Her writing process is varied. She has journals stashed throughout the house and in the car and always carries a small notebook in her purse. Sometimes she goes weeks and weeks without so much as a journal entry and other times, writes several times a day.