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When Does the Hunger Begin?

by Chris Johnson

Cover Image by Michael Yull 

When Does the Hunger Begin? 

by Chris Johnson

Published April 9, 2021

“Nightmares in a mirror above a waterbed:

I say your name three times and your brother appears.”

      —from “When Does the Hunger Begin?” by Adèle Barclay

The last days of February were honeyed,

snowy, and enlightened by whisky and weed.


We have cold slush seeping into pages and Blundstones

as we drag around this phantom limb, Bedouine tones.


Gusts of memories chill.

I have imagined my death while imagining other deaths.


Valleys only look peaceful looking down from above.

Count on this misplacement to find yourself.


Have you awoken to the sound of your own screaming?

I daydreamed your name, grieved for your sister.


At my cousin’s wedding an uncle smoked a Cuban cigar.

The BC air was so fresh. Mornings kept asking for more.


If I am underwater, I will hold my breath

and count the bubbles that leave for the surface.

Johnson headshot Credit photo to Nicolai

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson (he/they) currently lives on unceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory, where he is the Managing Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, a board member for the Ottawa Arts Council, and part of the creative collective VII along with Manahil Bandukwala, Ellen Chang-Richardson, Conyer Clayton, nina jane drystek, Margo LaPierre, and Helen Robertson. VII’s debut chapbook of collaborative poetry, Towers, is forthcoming from Collusion Books. Twitter: @ceeeejohnson

Author photo by Nicolai Gregory.

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