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James B. Duke Library
3300 Poinsett Highway
Greenville, SC 29613
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THOMAS L. JOHNSON
Son of a career Navy chaplain and an Alabama-born mother with eighteenth-century South Carolina roots, Thomas L. Johnson is a retired librarian emeritus from the University of South Carolina (South Caroliniana Library) in Columbia, where he also taught English.
He has been publishing prize-winning poetry since the 1970s, and he has won awards for his short fiction and for his work as an editor. For many years he edited the poetry page of the Columbia-based newsmonthly The Point.
Johnson lives in Spartanburg. He has been active in the Hub City Writers Project, the Spartanburg Art Museum, the Birchwood Center for Arts and Folklife, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina. He is a life member of the board of governors of the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
The Sign of the Mona Lisa Motel, Fallen at Camden
The signs are everywhere—the signs
of love, the signs of fall. She lies,
for instance, in a ditch near town,
prostrate on the ground and decked out
only in that revolutionary
smile of hers: the sad sweet grin
which bids a man to leave it all
for her and enter into battle.
I don’t need to spend a little
time where Merrie Englande passed
a losing day. I want to throw it
all away—the day, the year,
a lifetime—putting back that face
and staying where two lips and eyes
like those gaze out at me and speak
in loving silence, or in words.
—Copyright 2010 Thomas L. Johnson