Johanna is from New York and lives in Shanghai. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She’s a recent graduate of Bard College and works at NYU Shanghai as a Writing and Speaking Fellow.


Three Poems


Someone has to play the dog on a leash.


I wrote it down locked out

“did the cop leave his mark on me when he still didn’t look away?”

Her muumuu

hid the character

for peace has the grain radical in it:

if everyone can eat…

Real dogs are not leashed

though sometimes they are

clothed. Small pink shoes and baggy tube shirt skirt.

A European family of five locks eyes with the least interesting thing on the street:

French bistro.

How much fun is it to edit your food and face? Curious, they got their phones out. I couldn’t tell if you were sick, even when you coughed. Maybe it was smoke. I massaged my own back with a pissed fist.

I guessed how to speak second language sign language. No one noticed the pig in misery while they took pictures with the midget puppy. I keep telling you it’s not hypocritical to prefer food that doesn’t come from your own restaurant. I heard of a girl without lobes who buys hoops just for fun.




The hardest part of miming is keeping symmetry in air. Please do not smoke during the entire flight. She signs the word for “stewardess” like the child that claimed 可以. Her arms gesture above the cobalt neck noose, the bow.

The sign has EXIT lit up in two languages: 出口 plus the arrow. 我们都知道怎么离开. Patterns folding inside, themselves fat in a core.

It’s a difficult trend for 老外, the outside. Other citizens pursue a collective personification of nation, and 外国人, pretend, again. Some vowels you have to send.



Everything you ever wanted to know about animals.

Underwater, Gilgamesh stole the vibrator. I moved into his jaw and we didn’t kiss. He was the strongest; I was the one killing villains. The crab king and I alternated wins; his legs were his downfall. It took a lot of work to crush a crustacean. Old skin slid off the shelled sea mammoth. The ocean ate it. Gilgamesh was the last whale there.

Other species are a mystery. Snakes will not seem to be handicapped. Their soft underbelly is their soft underbelly. Do beavers use sonar? Let this be self-evident: cats can hear death. Everything you see could be remembered. Are salmon bottom feeders? Trust: fish farms would not exist if you didn’t get hungry. I first noticed the circles in your neck when it became clear you were like one of those priests, treating all prey the same.