Postcards from Malthusia DAY SIXTY-SIX: Brian Johnstone



It’s dark. The stage is quite aware

these times occur. Days might grow


to weeks before the spot

has anything to follow, the flood


can make the play. But this one’s

dragging on. Something’s up


the stage believes. Its boards

tell it the story, their silence all


it needs to know, a mute

denial of returns. No feet to find


their mark. No entrances

or exits. No sound where once


applause would break in waves

against its drapes. Maybe, the stage


begins to think, a note will issue 

from the wings, a step 


will cause a random board to creak

and light will bathe the space


that’s felt its absence keenly,

like some nagging ache. The day 


will come. What’s needed is 

a number for the climax of the show, 


the long-awaited redraft of the script

expected in tomorrow’s post.



Brian Johnstone’s poems have appeared in Scotland and in over 20 countries worldwide. He has published seven poetry collections, plus a prose memoir Double Exposure (Saraband, 2017). His most recent pamphlet Juke Box Jeopardy (Red Squirrel Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award 2019. His next collection, The Marks on the Map, will be published by Arc in October. He is a founder and former Director of the StAnza Poetry Festival.


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