Archive for the Jacob Johanson Category

Billboards in the Wasteland

Posted in Jacob Johanson with tags , , on October 26, 2020 by Scot

Book Review

Selected Poems 2013-2016 by
Jacob Johanson

Spartan Press
Kansas City, MO

I have read a lot of poetry and published a lot over the last 11 plus years and have been reading and writing it since the 70s . I might have written  two book reviews.  I rarely feel the need.

One thing I have learned is most poets have to die before someone recognizes their brilliance and collects their work and publishes them. But when I heard the story of how Spartan Press editors Jason Ryberg and John Dorsey collected these poems and published Billboards in the Wasteland by Jacob Johanson as a surprise I had to read it and find out why. Sure the blurbs on the back of the book were good but who’s going to put a mediocre one on a book right?

In this 65 page book Johanson talks about how the world is not quotable anymore but his poems I found are certainly quotable. He is at his best when he speaks directly to someone in the poem like the A Few Tips on How to Avoid Becoming Your Own Pall-Bearer where he talks to his daughters and ends:

as you grow up,
if there’s one thing
you take away from me,
let it be
the importance
of believing
in unicorns

His Letter to The Ghost of Kell Robertson is another poem in that same vein. Pick a stanza in this poem and you will find something to quote.

kell robertson
i wish you were here
so we could discuss gun control
how well it worked
for the city of tombstone

Johanson appears on the surface to have a easy readable and certainly a relatable style. But the take away is the way he chooses each word and paints each image that makes his work stand out. It is really how he views the world differently than most of us. That makes it deliberate. It is a gift that a select group of writers have. They allow us to see the world in a different way. It is through their words but becomes through our eyes.  Johanson is one of those writers, one of those poets. This is a group of poems that when you read them you will say I wish I had said that.

So my friends this is that proverbial if you are going to buy one book this month or this year. No bullshit. No politics. It is this one. Billboards of the Wasteland is available on Amazon or from Spartan Press.

–Scot Young

Voicemail by Jacob Johanson

Posted in Jacob Johanson on August 25, 2009 by Scot


this is the holy spectacle calling
to demand
you stop murdering your angelic
by confusing faith with dogma
and morality
as some sort of absolute.

just where
do you think apostles
would come from
if jesus were around now,
what with his love
of sinners and parables?

he wouldn’t tap billy graham,
i’ll tell you that much.

and also?

give iris back her purse-
already got his.

please call back.

you know i’ll answer.