OPEN SEASON | Torii Johnson

People in the south have mouths that cradle their vowels
like a hunter holds his gun.

Don’t kiss in the car in case we get run off the road.

Speak slow ‘round the molasses of their thoughts
and savor the sound.

There’s only malicious intent if you threaten their freedom.
I’ve been asked many times why I care
that I could be thrown out of a restaurant for who I love,
because I shouldn’t want to spend money there
in the first place.
My mouth fills with blood from a bitten tongue.
Don’t kiss in the car in case we get run off the road.
Scared to hold hands at the supermarket
because it might scare the kids’ parents
& Southern Walmarts have hunting rifle sections.
Not all of them but anywhere near a forest
or something you can drown in.

I drown out my cousins talking about hunting with
any music other than country.
Count incorrect use of the word gay 3 times.
They cradle the sound of it like an animal about to be skinned.

I try not to make a sound.


Torii Johnson is an English and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies double major at Wesleyan University. Self-described anxious writer, intersectional feminist, annoyed bisexual, femme witch, caffeine enthusiast. She runs her personal blog and has contributed to Helloflo; if you’re interested in her tweets, which you should be, her handle’s @toriisavannah.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.

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